Though its length was a bit longer than anticipated, the wait for NASCAR fans to see Dale Earnhardt Jr. behind the wheel once more is almost over.
The 15-time NMPA Most Popular Driver Award winner is set to pilot the No. 8 JR Motorsports Hellmann’s Chevrolet in Saturday’s Hooters 250 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio).
Before waving the green flag in February’s Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500, Earnhardt told the media that the pull of driving grows stronger every day he’s not in the seat of a race car.
“I really miss racing. I really miss driving, and it‘s getting worse,” Earnhardt said. “I thought as I got out of the car and the further I got from my full-time career, the less that would bother me, but it actually is getting worse for some reason. I really look forward to getting some seat time, smelling the smells and hearing the noises and just enjoying being in the car.”
This was said, of course, when Earnhardt thought he’d be racing a few weeks later on the originally scheduled date of March 21. That race was postponed and eventually rescheduled for June 13 as the COVID-19 pandemic put the race calendar on hold.
Since retiring from his full-time role as a NASCAR Cup Series driver after the 2017 season, Earnhardt has participated in one Xfinity Series race each year with his JR Motorsports operation. He finished fourth at Richmond Raceway in 2018 and fifth at Darlington Raceway last year. This season, he‘ll take on the 1.5-mile Homestead track, where he’s made five previous series starts with a best finish of second in 1999.