Dale Earnhardt Jr on Daytona 500 Appearance Talks: “Take a Guy Like William Byron, He’s Young. He’s a Risk-Taker and I’m Done Taking Risks”

Published 01/12/2022, 12:04 PM EST
LAS VEGAS, NV – NOVEMBER 28: Dale Earnhardt Jr. talks on stage during Appreci88ion, An Evening With Dale Earnhardt Jr. Presented By Nationwide at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on November 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)


When the NASCAR Cup Series drivers took to the Daytona International Speedway, there was a familiar face. To be precise, the Hendrick Motorsports team roped in Dale Earnhardt Jr to drive the #5 car. This is largely because Kyle Larson is a little busy trying to defend his Chili Bowl Nationals title. Of course, with Dale Jr.’s presence, there were speculations that he could be back in a racing capacity.

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Speaking after the test, he said, “No impact. It’s a long story, but I’m old. 47 years old, and take a guy like William Byron, he’s young. He’s a risk-taker and I’m done taking risks. I got two little girls that I love being around and I put my wife through a lot, to race. Half of my career, she was with me. She put everything in her world on pause for eight or ten years… I just don’t know that at 47 years old, I would be willing to take the necessary risks down on the race track, that a young guy like William Byron is able to do.”

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What else did Dale Earnhardt Jr. say?

The veteran driver confessed that he often wondered what happens when drivers’ performances start to dip. He observed that wins slowly turn into Top 5s and gradually go down to Top 10s, before fading off. A lot of times, the veteran drivers try to stretch their careers well beyond their successful years. So, Dale Jr wondered about the reason behind the drop in performance. Sometimes, it could be the car or the team, but he believes that the biggest reason is the driver’s ability to take risks.

FORT WORTH, TEXAS – APRIL 08: (EDITOR’S NOTE: Image was processed using digital filters.) Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 8, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

In other words, he is talking about their willingness to repeatedly place themselves in dangerous situations. As the years pass, younger drivers enter the sport and display raw speed. According to him, whenever he raced, he used to watch the younger drivers often be a touch overzealous. In fact, when he came for the test, he was under the impression that he would be alone on the track. One thing is for sure, he is not going to compete in the Daytona 500.

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Dhruv George

12527 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Motorsports author for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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