Late Model Stock Cars

Dale Jr. open to Late Models after NASCAR retirement

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Despite announcing his eventual retirement from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at the end of the season, Dale Earnhardt Jr. probably has a lot more racing left him.

For one, he’s still scheduled to make two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts in 2018, but even once that schedule has been completed, there should still be a few more chances to see the 14-time most popular driver behind the wheel of a stock car.

The 42-year-old has said for years that he expects to return to Late Model Stock racing once he completed his NASCAR career. The concussion that cost him the second half of his 2016 season and the loosely related decision to step away from NASCAR hasn’t changed that desire.

He still wants to return to a Late Model at some point down the line and has the means to do so with a shop that currently fields a championship-winning entry for Josh Berry.

“I’ll just have to see how much I’ve got as far as how much I want to do that,” Earnhardt said on Friday at Talladega Superspeedway. “I have access to the cars that we have in our Late Model program.  We are going to run some Xfinity races and we’ll see.

“If the itch gets too bad we will have to go to the track and have some fun.”

Even with the willingness to do it, Earnhardt said he wouldn’t have a rigid schedule for it.

“I’m certainly still open to that,” Earnhardt said. “It certainly just depends on the side of the bed you wake up on as to whether you want to go over to Hickory and fool around and have some fun.  I mean those guys are serious.

“They are not out there goofing off as a hobby, so if you are going to go do it, you better be ready to get after it. I’ve been over there and watched them. They are trying to do the same thing I was when I was running late models was trying to get up to the next level.”

Back in 2014, Earnhardt first teased the idea, and said he didn’t fully appreciate his time driving Late Models like he should have in the early 90’s due to the pressure associated with being the son of Dale Earnhardt and a highly publicized NASCAR prospect in his own right.

Earnhardt began his career competing on short track across the Southeast alongside his brother, Kerry, and sister, Kelley.

“I had a lot of fun at that level,” Earnhardt said before the 2014 Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “I was so nervous back then that I didn’t get to enjoy it as much as I wanted to. I would love to go back and enjoy that more, just racing at Hickory or somewhere.”

For his fans, it might provide one more last chance to see their favorite driver wheel a stock car.

About Matt Weaver

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Matt Weaver is the owner and founder of Short Track Scene. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He is also the associate motorsports editor of Autoweek Magazine and its website, which allows him to cover the highest levels of the sport.

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