Dale Earnhardt Jr. still plans to race during his Cup retirement

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — While Dale Earnhardt Jr. will walk away from the NASCAR Cup Series after this season, he’ll drive at least two Xfinity races next year.

“You’ve not seen the last of me on the race track,’’ he said Tuesday.

Earnhardt, whose contract with Hendrick Motorsports expires after this season, announced that he will not drive the team’s No. 88 Chevrolet after this year.

Wanting to leave the series on his own terms after missing half of last season because of a symptoms related to a concussion, Earnhardt told car owner Rick Hendrick on March 29 he would not be back for the 2018 season.

Earnhardt stressed in a press conference that he’ll continue to race, though.

“I’m eager to explore new opportunities,’’ he said. “I don’t see myself really detaching from NASCAR. My intention is to still be a part of the sport on some level. In fact, I still have two Xfinity races to run for JR Motorsports for 2018. So even after this season is over, you’ve not seen the last of me on the race track.’’

And there could be more races.

“I told (wife) Amy I might slip off and run a 40 lapper at Hickory one night,’’ Earnhardt said. “So if I’m missing on a Saturday night, she might know where I’m at. But other than that, I don’t have any plans.’’

Earnhardt’s sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, said she’s not sure how many Xfinity races he will run for JR Motorsports.

“It will depend on our car lineup,’’ she said. “We don’t have a lot of opportunity for a fifth car to run a lot of races, just because of resources. We’re currently partnered with three of the four teams for next year and the fourth one is on deck to be signed shortly. So there probably won’t be a ton of opportunity to do a lot of races with Dale.’’

The team has Elliott Sadler, Justin Allgaier, William Byron and Michael Annett as its drivers this season.

What races Earnhardt, a two-time series champion, will run in the Xfinity Series have not been picked, Earnhardt Miller said. She said they will be with sponsors Unilever and Goody’s.

Earnhardt is scheduled to run in the Xfinity Series at Bristol in August and Richmond in September.

“My heart loves being in the car,’’ Earnhardt said. “I love driving. I enjoy it as much as I ever have.’’

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Today’s Xfinity race at Charlotte: Start time, weather, TV/radio info

Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images
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After two weekends off, the Xfinity Series is back in action today at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Elliott Sadler enters as the points leader with a 29-point advantage on JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier. William Byron, who also drives for JR. Motorsports, is third in the standings. Byron and Sadler are going for their first victory of the season, while Allgaier seeks his second win this year.

Here are the particulars for today’s Xfinity race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: The Evil Genius’ Halo ESports Team will give the command for drivers to start engines at 1:07 p.m. The green flag is scheduled for 1:18 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 200 laps (300 miles) around the 1.5-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 45. Stage 2 ends on Lap 90.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: The Xfinity garage opens at 6:30 a.m. The drivers meeting is at 11:15 a.m. Driver introductions are at 12:30 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Star Swain will perform the Anthem at 1:01 p.m.

TV/RADIO: Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the race at 1 p.m. Its coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. Performance Racing Network will broadcast the race on radio and at gorpn.com. PRN’s coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry PRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts 85 degrees at race time with a 15 percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST YEAR: Denny Hamlin led 76 laps to win this even a year ago. Austin Dillon was second and Joey Logano third. Logano led the final 12 laps to win at Charlotte in October. Elliott Sadler was second and Daniel Suarez was third.

STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying is at 10:05 a.m.

Today’s schedule at Charlotte: Cup practice, Xfinity qualifying and race

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NASCAR goes racing today with the Hisense 4K TV 300 Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Denny Hamlin won this race last year.

Here is today’s track schedule, as the countdown to Sunday’s main event of the weekend, the Coca-Cola 600, ticks closer:

(All times Eastern)

6:30 a.m. – Xfinity garage opens

7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Cup garage open

9 – 9:55 a.m. – Cup practice (FS1)

10:05 a.m. – Xfinity qualifying (multi-vehicle, three rounds) (FS1)

11:15 a.m. – Xfinity driver/crew chief meeting

11:30 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. – Cup final practice (FS1)

12:30 p.m. – Xfinity driver introductions

1 p.m. – Xfinity Hisense 4K TV 300 (200 laps, 300 miles) (FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

My Home Track: North Carolina’s Caraway Speedway (video)

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Sure, NASCAR is synonymous with Daytona Beach, the state of Florida and Daytona International Speedway.

But there is no other state that is so linked to NASCAR than the Tar Heel state, North Carolina.

Numerous racetracks, from the smallest grassroots short track to Charlotte Motor Speedway dot the state, offering a plethora of race action from amateur all the way to the best of the best.

On Friday’s My Home Track: 50 States in 50 Shows segment, NASCAR America’s Kyle Petty shared some of his fondest memories of one of his favorite short tracks, Caraway Speedway.

Check out the video above.

NASCAR America: Steve Letarte reflects on mentor Ray Evernham’s Hall of Fame selection

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Steve Letarte learned the sport of NASCAR from a number of different individuals.

But no one compares to Letarte’s greatest mentor, Ray Evernham, who was selected earlier this week as one of five individuals that will enter the NASCAR Hall of Fame in its 2018 class.

Evernham, who led Jeff Gordon to three of his four NASCAR Cup championships as Gordon’s crew chief, was not only an innovator in the sport, but also a leader, mentor and team owner.

On Friday’s NASCAR America, Letarte, an Evernham protege, discussed what made his former boss, teacher and close friend so special.  Check out the video above.