NASCAR: Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s 2023 plans see slight change

Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

Dale Jr. has driven in the NASCAR Xfinity Series each year following his Cup Series retirement, but this is the first season since then in which he is planning to run two races.

The 2023 NASCAR season is set to be the 28th consecutive season in which Dale Earnhardt Jr. competes in at least one race on some level, as he hasn’t been able to fully stay away from the driving side of the sport since retiring from full-time Cup Series competition at the end of the 2017 season.

In each of the last five years, he has competed in one Xfinity Series race for JR Motorsports, the team he co-owns along with sister Kelley Earnhardt Miller.

He competed at Richmond Raceway in 2018 and 2021, recording finishes of fourth and 14th place, respectively. In 2019, he finished in fifth at Darlington Raceway, and in 2020, he finished in fifth at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Last year, he made his first ever Xfinity Series start at Martinsville Speedway and finished in 11th.

Though he hinted that his 2020 race could be his last, he seems to have put off a full-fledged retirement for the foreseeable future.

And in 2023, Dale Jr. has made a slight change to his recent approach: he is set to compete in two NASCAR Xfinity Series races instead of just one.

Not since the 2017 season has Earnhardt competed in more than one Xfinity Series race. Since 2018, all of his Xfinity Series starts have come with sponsorship from Unilever’s Hellmann’s brand.

With Unilever back at JR Motorsports for the 15th straight year, he is again set to compete with sponsorship from Hellmann’s on his No. 88 Chevrolet, this time doing so in the Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday, September 15. He last competed at Bristol Motor Speedway in September 2017, when he finished in 13th place.

With sponsorship from Bass Pro Shops, thanks to a renewed and expanded partnership between JR Motorsports and the outdoor and conservation company, he is set to compete in the Contender Boats 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday, October 21 as well.

The No. 88 Chevrolet is a part-time entry, so there were quite a few possibilities for Dale Jr.’s race with Bass Pro Shops, since Miguel Paludo is the car’s only other driver this season and his schedule only consisted of three road course races.

What remains not a part of Dale Jr.’s schedule, however, is a Cup Series start, even though he has tested the Next Gen car multiple times. It is highly unlikely that that will ever change.

FanDuel Sportsbook, which is offering fans a guaranteed $200 when they bet $5, lists Earnhardt at +3500 to win Friday night’s race.

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Bristol Motor Speedway is scheduled to host the Food City 300 on Friday, September 15 beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET. USA Network is set to provide live coverage, so begin a free trial of FuboTV now and don’t miss it!