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Dale Earnhardt Jr. misses driving in the Cup series

Dale Earnhardt Jr. recounts the daily mental grind drivers must withstand to become a NASCAR driver.

Last week during a sponsor appearance, a fan told Dale Earnhardt Jr. that he appeared to be happier now than at any time in his life. Junior agreed and told why on this week’s Dale Jr. Download.

“As a driver, you can never lose that edge,’ Earnhardt said. “You can’t ever get rid of that chip on your shoulder – whatever that chip’s there for.”

Whether that sharp edge is there because of a bad finish the week before, a run-in with another competitor, or the burning desire to be the best, it keeps a driver from being totally relaxed.

“That (chip) was always like 50 percent – it affected your personality so much,” Earnhardt continued. “And it went everywhere you went.”

Retiring from racing removed that chip.

“Once you finally retire or whatever it is that gets you free of that, you finally get out from under it,” Earnhardt said. “I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, it’s just the way life is if you’re going to race cars. You got to mentally be in there 100 percent.”

But retiring does not take the desire to race away.

It’s taken more than half of the season, but Earnhardt now says that he misses being behind the wheel.

“I miss driving,” Earnhardt said. “I didn’t really feel that way at the start of the season … I was happy to be out of the car. But the longer the season goes … seeing the guys racing and having fun. I know they’re having fun even though they’re like ‘rahrr’ and just gouging and grinding for every little piece of grip and asphalt they can get. I know they’re enjoying it deep down inside, they’re getting what they want out of it. So there’s moments in the race when I think I miss that right there.”

For more, watch the video above.

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