NASCAR: Where is Dale Earnhardt Jr. driving in 2021?

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images) /

Where will Dale Earnhardt Jr. compete in the 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series season? There is really only one option that makes any sense, based on hints he has dropped.

Despite suggesting that his NASCAR Xfinity Series start at Homestead-Miami Speedway last June may have been his final NASCAR start, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has since confirmed that he will be back for another one-off appearance behind the wheel of the #8 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports, the team he co-owns, in 2021 with sponsorship from Hellmann’s once again.

What he has not confirmed is where that start will be made, but all signs point to one track in particular.

Asked about the location of what will be his fourth one-off appearance at NASCAR’s second highest level since he retired from Cup Series competition after the 2017 season, Earnhardt told Beyond the Flag that he will not be competing where he initially wanted to compete: Martinsville Speedway.

“It’s somewhere that I’ve raced before in the last couple of years…It’s not going to be Martinsville where I wanted to go,” he said.

His reasoning for why effectively narrows it down to just one option.

“Hellmann’s and the guys, they need a little bit of time to sort of activate the sponsorship and get their money’s worth, and we need to allow them to be able to maximize that,” he added. “For what we ask of them, they deserve that much from us. And they cannot activate in time to be able to run the first Martinsville race, so that knocks that one off the list, because Martinsville is where I wanted to go.”

With all things considered, look for Earnhardt to compete at Darlington Raceway like he did in 2019. Here’s why.

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Assuming he is referring to his recent Xfinity Series starts when discussing the fact that it is somewhere he has raced in the last couple years, let’s take a look at his recent history.

He competed at Homestead-Miami Speedway this past season and finished in fifth place behind the wheel of the #8 Chevrolet. However, not only is it unlikely that he would run there twice in a row, but that race is only the third race of the season and is scheduled to take place in late February, meaning that it would be far too soon for Hellmann’s, considering April’s Martinsville Speedway race is too soon itself.

Earnhardt competed at Richmond Raceway in 2018 and finished in fourth place behind the wheel of the #88 Chevrolet, and he competed at Darlington Raceway in 2019 and finished in fifth behind the wheel of the #8 Chevrolet after initial race winner Denny Hamlin was disqualified.

Richmond Raceway is scheduled to host its lone Xfinity Series race of 2021 in September, and Darlington Raceway is scheduled to host a race then as well.

But the latter is also scheduled to host a race in May, and given the fact that Sam Mayer is signed to drive the #8 Chevrolet in the final 18 races of the season, spanning from late June to the season finale in early November, that would leave only this race as an option.

Plus, he also has his NBC broadcasting duties during the latter half of the season.

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So expect to see Dale Earnhardt Jr. back behind the wheel of the #8 Chevrolet in the Toyota 200 at Darlington Raceway on Saturday, May 8. We’d be shocked to see him anywhere else.