By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
For the first time in 18 years, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. didn’t have a race to run when the Daytona 500 went green last Sunday and for the 15-time Most Popular Driver, that was fine by him.
While in Daytona to support his Xfinity Series teams and serve as the Grand Marshal, Earnhardt was asked how he felt not having to worry about being behind the wheel for the Great American Race and he noted how refreshing it was to not have the pressure of race day weighing down on him.
“It’s actually been really nice to not have to worry about performance or living up to expectation or your own or someone else’s,” said Earnhardt. “It’s been great to get all that off my shoulders…I walked around every day of my life with a thousand pounds on my shoulders that was Sunday, what was going to happen, how was I going to run, and I think every driver does that. Now that that’s off my shoulders and I don’t have to worry about that anymore, everything in my life is so much more enjoyable.
“I loved driving cars on Sunday, but it made everything else sit in the backseat, and it made‑‑ everything else was nowhere near as enjoyable as it could have been or should have been maybe because of the pressure I put on myself for Sunday. But all that out of the way, man, life is‑‑ I’m living, I’m loving, I’m having a good time.”
Since retiring from full-time racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at the end of the 2017 season, Earnhardt has dove head first into his post-racing life, from a new job with NBC Sports, to renovating a house down in Key West with his wife Amy, and getting ready to welcome his first child later this year.
Earnhardt has been a busy man since turning the page on his driving career, with his schedule probably more packed than it has been in recent years, but that doesn’t bother him one bit.
This week, Earnhardt is in South Korea for the final week of the Winter Olympics as a part of his duties with NBC and noted before leaving that he is relishing in the new opportunities heading his way, whether it be a trip to the Olympics, or the Super Bowl, or anything else that the future may bring.
“I haven’t had a whole lot of time to sit around and‑‑ Amy says when I’m home and don’t have anything to do, I just get up off the couch and pace around the house and then sit back on the couch and complain, so it’s probably good that I’ve been so busy, and I’ve enjoyed it.
“Just a lot of little things that are a lot of fun that I finally have more time to invest in that are projects of ours.”