NASCAR: Dale Jr. considered retiring after Homestead start

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Dale Jr., JR Motorsports, Homestead-Miami Speedway, NASCAR Xfinity Series (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Dale Jr., JR Motorsports, Homestead-Miami Speedway, NASCAR Xfinity Series (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Dale Jr. is back for another NASCAR Xfinity Series race after making one in September, marking his first season with more than one start since 2017. But there was a point when he thought he may be finished altogether.

September’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway saw the return of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has competed in one Xfinity Series race per year with sponsorship from Hellmann’s since retiring from full-time Cup Series competition following the conclusion of the 2017 season.

After competing behind the wheel of a Chevrolet for JR Motorsports, the team he co-owns with sister Kelley Earnhardt Miller, at Richmond Raceway in 2018, Darlington Raceway in 2019, Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2020, and then Richmond Raceway again 2021, he made his first ever Xfinity Series start at Martinsville Speedway in 2022.

After competing at Bristol last month, Earnhardt is set to compete in a second race, something he hasn’t done since 2017. He is set to compete in this Saturday afternoon’s Contender Boats 300 at Homestead with sponsorship from Bass Pro Shops on his No. 88 Chevrolet. His most recent appearance at Homestead in June 2020 produced a fifth place finish.

But it also led to him discussing the possibility of being done competing completely after 773 career NASCAR starts.

“This might be the last one, and this ain’t no tease or anything like that,” Earnhardt said after securing that top five finish. “I’m not trying to be annoying about that.”

But he did opt to return in 2021 for start number 774, and he has since returned in 2022 for start number 775 and in 2023 for start number 776.

Now start number 777 is planned for Saturday’s 200-lap race around the four-turn, 1.5-mile (2.414-kilometer) Homestead, Florida oval.

Earnhardt is listed at +1400 to win Saturday’s race at FanDuel Sportsbook, which is offering fans an instant and guaranteed $200 just for betting $5.

In six post-retirement Xfinity Series starts, Earnhardt has secured three top five finishes. In addition to his fifth place finish at Homestead in 2020, he finished in fourth at Richmond in 2018 and fifth at Darlington in 2019. He also finished in 14th at Richmond in 2021 and 11th at Martinsville in 2022. He was in contention for the win at Bristol last month, but a fire in his car resulted in a 30th place DNF.

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The Contender Boats 300 is set to be broadcast live from Homestead on USA Network, not NBC like it was initially scheduled to, at 3:00 p.m. ET on Saturday afternoon. Begin a free trial of FuboTV if you have not already done so!