Dale Earnhardt Jr. isn’t fairly completed with racing.
The NASCAR fan favourite obtained again behind the wheel Friday night time, led 96 laps and completed fourth in an Xfinity Collection race at Richmond Raceway. It was his first race since he retired from the Cup Collection after final season and have become a father earlier this 12 months.
“I am in all probability going to run another subsequent 12 months,” Earnhardt stated, primarily as a result of the income he brings in from racing permits him to assist one other automobile for Eight-to-10 races. “It is value it for me to get on the market, have a bit enjoyable, run a race.”
It was particularly enjoyable, he stated, earlier than the inexperienced flag ever dropped as a result of his spouse, Amy, and toddler daughter Isla had been with him.
“I used to be thrilled to have Isla there,” he stated. “She will not keep in mind what occurred at this time, but when I by no means run one other race, I obtained to have her at one occasion and we obtained an image on the automobile earlier than the race that she’ll be capable of have the remainder of her life. It does not matter to me if she ever thinks that is an enormous deal, however I need her to have some understanding, I suppose, of what I did earlier than she was born.”
It was a second, he stated, that was “bizarre, however fairly cool.”
Now working as an analyst for NBC Sports activities, Earnhardt stated he does not need to cheat his new profession.
“I like to drive and I simply do not need to do a ton. I need to be nice within the sales space. I do know that this helps a bit bit, however it additionally takes away from my capability to … see the weekend as an entire, perceive what is going on on throughout the board.
“That is the place I need to be. I need to be within the sales space for a protracted, very long time,” he stated.
Earnhardt had the lead till Matt Tifft beat him off pit highway with about 30 laps to go. Christopher Bell then handed Tifft after a restart with 13 laps to go and gained the primary of seven playoff races within the collection. It was Bell’s fifth victory this season, and he accomplished a season sweep at Richmond.
“To have the ability to come out right here and win on a late race restart like that’s actually particular,” stated Bell, who gained final 12 months’s championship within the truck collection. Justin Allgaier’s 32nd-place run additionally gave Bell the collection factors lead.
Ross Chastain rallied to complete second, adopted by Daniel Hemric.
For Chastain, succeeding in a race the place one of many sport’s greatest stars additionally contended had an additional cool issue.
“There may be, man. I stay near him. I assist pay the payments over there at JR Motorsports with my hire test each month — I make a small contribution — and we move one another on the highway at times,” Chastain stated. “I do not suppose he is aware of what I drive, however I wave to him identical to I wave at all people else down that bumpy, bumpy highway.”
It wasn’t Chastain’s first on-track encounter with Earnhardt.
“I raced with him at Dover in my first Cup race,” he stated. “One run, we had our automobile actually good, his automobile was actually unhealthy and I used to be in a position to clear him and I waved to him. About 10 laps later, I burned my entrance tires off, he went again by me and he waved again to me and I used to be like, ‘Wow. That is Dale Jr. waving.'”
The race was the 31st within the collection for Elliott Sadler, a Virginia native who grew up about 70 miles away and usually attended races on the observe. Sadler, who’s retiring on the finish of the season, hoped to seize his first profession victory on the zero.75-mile, D-shaped oval. He ran within the high 10 many of the race and completed sixth.