Dale Jr. finds positives in Daytona test, but rules out talk of a Cup return: ‘I’m done taking risks’

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Dale Earnhardt Jr. states he aspired to leap in for NASCAR Cup Series checking today at Daytona International Speedway, a lot that he pinged a handful of groups — Richard Childress Racing and Spire to name a few — expecting seat time. He stated a half-dozen texts went to Chad Knaus, Hendrick Motorsports’ VP of Competitors, who lastly bit, clearing the method for him to drive the No. 5 Chevrolet throughout the preseason sessions.

Earnhardt showed Wednesday on his time back behind the wheel of the Cup Series’ brand-new Next Gen cars and truck that will debut this season, getting important understanding that needs to assist him end up being a more educated broadcaster for NBC Sports’ NASCAR protection. The 47-year-old retired from full-time Cup Series competitors after the 2017 season and has actually kept his leisure racing to one Xfinity Series occasion each year because.

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Earnhardt scuttled any speculation that today’s go back to the Cup Series garage may cause more, state possibly a Daytona 500 one-off.

“No impact,” stated Earnhardt, asked whether the test sessions revived a competitive Cup Series fire. “You know, I think that it’s a long story, but I’m old, 47 years old, and take a guy like William Byron and he’s young, he’s a risk taker, and I’m done taking risks. You know, I’ve got two little girls that I love being around and I put my wife through a lot to race, you know, half of my career that she was with me. She put everything in her role on pause for eight or 10 years while we did all that, and I just don’t know that at 47 years old I would be willing to take the necessary risks out on the race track that a young guy like William Byron would be willing to do.”

2022 Jan12 Dale Earnhardt Jr Main Image

2022 Jan12 Dale Earnhardt Jr Main Image

Byron is 24 years of ages and his colleague for the week, his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy parked along with his No. 5 in the external reaches of the Cup Series garage. His other colleagues — Cup Series champion Kyle Larson, Alex Bowman and Chase Elliott — are all hanging out driving midget cars and trucks at the Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa today, another element that unlocked for Earnhardt’s look.

Undoubtedly, Earnhardt had appointments about the often humdrum speed of screening at points in his profession. The chance, however, to drive the Cup Series’ brand-new lorry was too attracting, supplying him with first-hand experience about the cars and truck’s qualities that he can communicate to a television audience.

“They’ve got William to really lean on, but I was happy to have the two days,” Earnhardt stated. “Chad didn’t think I wanted to do the two days because he remembers me as somebody that didn’t really like testing. But having not done in a long time, I was happy to help them out. It’s really helped me out. I’m taking a ton of notes and learning so much about the car that I think it’s really good. When I talk to the drivers now, I think I can understand what they’re talking about, right? When I can ask them about what’s challenging about this car and this track, even if we’re talking about another race track, I think I can understand when he says this is what I feel, I can really kind of tap into this experience and really know what he’s talking about. I think that’ll be helpful.”

MORE: Dale Jr. logs laps at Daytona test | Next Gen timeline

Earnhardt was initially set up just for single-car runs throughout the Daytona test, however with team chief Alan Gustafson’s prodding, he discovered himself in the middle of multi-car packs both days. He formerly drove the cars and truck at Bowman Gray Arena’s quarter-mile last fall, a far various experience than the 2.5-mile Daytona oval, however he discovered a few of the exact same facts in the cars and truck’s more powerful brakes, the guiding accuracy and total feel.

Earnhardt has actually currently made prepare for his only Xfinity Series race of 2022, which will come at Martinsville Speedway on April 8. In regards to the Cup Series, he states that he’d invite another opportunity to accompany for screening, either at a brief track or an intermediate-sized location to contribute to his Next Gen notes.

“But that’s about all the interest I have in driving these cars. I do love racing in the Xfinity Series and that’s a little … it’s a completely different vibe there,” Earnhardt states. “The whole culture and everything’s way different, but so I don’t feel that same concern about that sort of instinctual risk-taking stuff.

“This is, the Cup Series is elite. You don’t just show up and think you’re just going to go out there and compete. It’d be like, you know, an old retired football player just showing up for an NFL game and thinking he’s gonna go out there and compete with those guys. You’d get destroyed. I remember when (Jamie) McMurray came back and ran a couple years ago for Spire, he got out and he told me, he said, ‘man, I don’t remember it being that hard.’ It’s tough. Not an easy thing.”

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.