Dale Earnhardt Jr. still plans to race during his Cup retirement
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — While Dale Earnhardt Jr. will walk away from the NASCAR Cup Series after this season, he’ll drive at least two Xfinity races next year.
“You’ve not seen the last of me on the race track,’’ he said Tuesday.
Earnhardt, whose contract with Hendrick Motorsports expires after this season, announced that he will not drive the team’s No. 88 Chevrolet after this year.
Wanting to leave the series on his own terms after missing half of last season because of a symptoms related to a concussion, Earnhardt told car owner Rick Hendrick on March 29 he would not be back for the 2018 season.
Earnhardt stressed in a press conference that he’ll continue to race, though.
“I’m eager to explore new opportunities,’’ he said. “I don’t see myself really detaching from NASCAR. My intention is to still be a part of the sport on some level. In fact, I still have two Xfinity races to run for JR Motorsports for 2018. So even after this season is over, you’ve not seen the last of me on the race track.’’
And there could be more races.
“I told (wife) Amy I might slip off and run a 40 lapper at Hickory one night,’’ Earnhardt said. “So if I’m missing on a Saturday night, she might know where I’m at. But other than that, I don’t have any plans.’’
Earnhardt’s sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, said she’s not sure how many Xfinity races he will run for JR Motorsports.
“It will depend on our car lineup,’’ she said. “We don’t have a lot of opportunity for a fifth car to run a lot of races, just because of resources. We’re currently partnered with three of the four teams for next year and the fourth one is on deck to be signed shortly. So there probably won’t be a ton of opportunity to do a lot of races with Dale.’’
The team has Elliott Sadler, Justin Allgaier, William Byron and Michael Annett as its drivers this season.
What races Earnhardt, a two-time series champion, will run in the Xfinity Series have not been picked, Earnhardt Miller said. She said they will be with sponsors Unilever and Goody’s.
Earnhardt is scheduled to run in the Xfinity Series at Bristol in August and Richmond in September.
“My heart loves being in the car,’’ Earnhardt said. “I love driving. I enjoy it as much as I ever have.’’