Dale Jr. Vows to Enjoy Every Moment Behind the Wheel
Now 43 years old and married to his longtime partner Amy Reimann, Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he has a new lease on life. A position that he feels very fortunate to be in. Dale Jr., or just Junior as he is often called, was sidelined with concussion-like symptoms just before the Brickyard 400 and missed the last eighteen races of the 2016 season. Initially replaced behind the wheel by the recently retired Jeff Gordon, everyone thought Junior would be back after sitting out a couple of races. What NASCAR's most popular driver had to learn over the coming weeks was that he might not be the one to make a decision as to whether or not he would ever race again.
Son of the legendary Dale Earnhardt Sr. and grandson of pioneer driver/builder Ralph Earnhardt, Dale Jr. was born into the sport that he so dearly loves. Stock car racing fans won't soon forget the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500 when Dale Sr. pushed his team driver, Michael Waltrip, to the lead and subsequent win. Seconds later Dale Sr. was involved in a three-car crash in turn four. After crossing the finish line in second place, Junior got out of his car and rushed over to check on his father's condition. After the seven-time Winston Cup Champion was extracted from his famous black #3, he was transported by ambulance to nearby Halifax Medical Center where he was pronounced dead shortly after 5 p.m.
In a recent AUTOWEEK interview, Junior opened up his heart and soul to reveal his personal perspective of what he went through as he was faced with the possibility of never racing again. As a third-generation superstar of the sport, Dale Jr. admitted that he and every other driver have those moments where you're just going through the grind. Something he never expects to experience again. The driver of the Hendrick's #88 doesn't plan to ever take the sport he calls "fun" for granted. As he returns to the track for this year's Daytona 500, Junior's goal is to enjoy every moment of his racing experience and ultimately to be the one that decides when he will retire from the sport.
E3 racing fans certainly hope that will not be anytime soon. Welcome back Junior.