Dale Earnhardt Jr. entered two cars into the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 last weekend at Martinsville Speedway.
Josh Berry and Anthony Alfredo drove them.
With Earnhardt set to retire from full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition at the end of the season, and an expressed willingness to return to Late Model Stock racing, would Dale Jr. consider an entry for himself next season?
Don’t hold your breath.
“Oh man, I don’t know about the 300,” Earnhardt said on Friday at Dover International Speedway. “We have spent a lot more money than we ever took home from over there I will tell you that. It’s a big race, very prestigious, but I will kind of leave it to them young guns to battle for that.”
Earnhardt told Short Track Scene back in May that he was open to the idea of returning to his home track of Hickory Motor Speedway someday.
That hasn’t totally changed.
“If anything, I would have interest in sneaking over to a track somewhere and just running a short weekly show trying to get in there under the radar and have some fun and not really a big show like the 300,” Earnhardt said. “But you never say never. I don’t know really how I will feel. I’m really interested just what the urges will be once I’m out of the car full-time.
“If I’m going to really miss driving the cars more than I think and maybe I will want to drive the Late Model more often, but obviously, it’s a team back there at the house. It ain’t just me. So, I’ve got to run it by the whole group and make sure everybody feels comfortable with that.”
Despite stepping out of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88, Earnhardt will remain a fixture in NASCAR. In addition to his ownership duties at JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series, Earnhardt will also join NBC Sports as a television analyst for the NASCAR Cup Series and the network’s other properties.
“I definitely want to focus as well on my next job,” Earnhardt added. “Again, I love running the Late Models and I like to have those cars competing every week, it keeps you sort of plugged in to the grassroots and it’s a great feeling to give to those tracks and support your local tracks and I certainly have some curiosity about going to those tracks at some point in racing.
“But, I don’t know about that big show at Martinsville that would be a little bit of a commitment.”
Earnhardt has previously spoken about a form of regret over his Late Model tenure, that he didn’t enjoy it as much as he should have, living under the pressure of being ‘Dale Earnhardt Jr.’
Back then, Earnhardt would enter hotels under the name William Bonney. Why?
“That was Billy the Kid’s name and that was what I used at hotels,” Earnhardt said. “And well, I don’t sleep in too many hotels anymore but William Bonney was always the moniker that we would use in those kinds of situations.
“But I doubt I would even try it. I would just come on in there to race and I really wouldn’t have any reason to hide I suppose. I might enjoy signing some autographs and just be in that environment as a driver. That is probably going to be hard to just quit cold turkey. So, it might do me some good to have those feelings again and just be down in the pits and roaming around. I have been there as a car owner and I was lucky enough to be at one particular race where we won so we got to take pictures in Victory Lane, which is a lot of fun. I am sure I will miss that as a driver but that is definitely going to happen.”
But again, this is all a ‘maybe’ at most.
“I don’t want to make this sound like I had plans to do this, because I have a wife at home that is a part of the discussion, before it happens,” Earnhardt said. “I have to make sure it’s good for both of us and that it’s something fun to do. Then maybe I go do that.”
Read more Short Track Scene:
- Observations: Martinsville Night Race
- Midwest Tour promoter Gregg McKarns calls for a short track committee
- Modifed Tour not in Dale Jr.’s future plans