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Earnhardt Puts Fear Aside; Returns To Late Models

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, August 31 2022

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will slide back into a Late Model Wednesday night at North Wilkesboro. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. enjoys driving Late Model stock cars, but he hasn’t competed in one since 1997 because he was “too scared”; however, that will change Wednesday night when he climbs into one at North Wilkesboro Speedway for the CARS Tour Window World 125. 

“My heart is in that series and in that type of cars,” said Earnhardt, who competed regularly in Late Models in the 1990s before moving into NASCAR’s Busch Series (now Xfinity). “I’ve wanted to drive the Late Model car for a really long time, and I just hadn’t had the guts to do it. I don’t know if I can make that make sense, but I’ve been too scared to do it. 

“I’ve had opportunities. I’ve got cars and I’ve got weeks off. I just haven’t gone and done it because you don’t want to get beat or you don’t want to get embarrassed, or you know you might not run well.”

Earnhardt said watching NASCAR Cup drivers Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman and others race in series outside their comfort zone, knowing they might not perform well, had helped him.

“Knowing they won’t be on the top of the sheet is helpful for be because I’ll probably have a hard time being ultra-competitive, but, hopefully, we’ll run well,” Earnhardt said. 

“I’ve always thought that people would say, ‘Oh, he should win. He’s an old Cup guy or he’s got great equipment. He should win.’ If you don’t, you’re afraid of getting ridiculed or criticized for it. I think I’m old enough now that I can blame it on being old if I don’t run well.”

Earnhardt said his goal in the 125-lap race at the historic short track was to finish the event. 

“I’m going to be really, really nervous that I will get wrecked out or I’ll wreck the car or not finish the race,” Earnhardt continued. “But I hope that after this race I will have had enough fun that I’ll want to do a few more next year. 

“God, I really love the Late Model series and running the local track. Showing up somewhere on a Friday or Saturday night unannounced, it’d be a lot of fun.”

Wednesday’s Window World 125 is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, August 31 2022
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