AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans can breathe easy. NASCAR's most popular driver isn't turning in his man card for Pilates, soy burgers and non-alcoholic beer.
But Earnhardt Jr. has, he said, dropped approximately 15 to 20 pounds since last year. Watching what he ate, how much he ate and a two-week long "detox diet" contributed to the slimming down of the 38-year-old.
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"I think the older you get, the more you have to do to kind of maintain a healthy weight," he said. "That's really what it's about for me is just trying to maintain my weight so I don't have to keep getting my driver suits altered throughout the season. Last year I was like, 'Man, they're shrinking, something is wrong with the washer.' "
The detox diet was a 15-day process of "just fish, chicken and steamed vegetables," he said. "And then there was like two days where you just ate vegetables and fruit. That was pretty tough for me to not have any meat."
Earnhardt Jr. said he really didn't think about what -- or how much -- he was eating. "All kinds of stuff like pizza and wings and ? not really watching portion controls and stuff like that," he said, explaining that it had gotten out of control.
"Reining all that back in; not getting too crazy about it though."
? Earnhardt Jr. said he felt no ill effects from his crash in the Feb. 23 NASCAR Nationwide Series race, and that he "felt awesome" the following day as he prepared for the season-opening Daytona 500.
Earnhardt Jr. was one of 12 drivers involved in the last-lap crash that saw the car of Kyle Larson slam into the catchfence on the frontstretch. More than 30 fans were treated for injuries following the accident. Earnhardt Jr. was one of several drivers in the incident that endured hard impacts.
Having sat out two races near the end of the 2012 season after suffering two concussions, he said he was pleased the incident didn't trigger any more issues.
"I was real happy that I was able to pass a personal test I guess," he said. "When you have concussions sometimes they're easier to get the second, third, fourth time around, so we survived that one. We'll move on and try not to get in anymore wrecks."
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