Dale Earnhardt Jr. might have announced his impending retirement Tuesday from the Cup Series, but his team hasn’t given up on a return appearance.
Crew chief Greg Ives told Marty Snider in a NASCAR America interview that the No. 88 team was trying to get Earnhardt “to commit to four speedway races next year. We’ll see how that works out. We had some light moments, had some fun. Obviously we have a lot of work to do throughout the rest of 2017 and to stay focused on that.”
Ives said Earnhardt broke the news to the team Tuesday morning.
“I think initially when everyone heard, there was probably a big gulp like, ‘OK, we knew the day was coming at some point,’ but you’re never prepared for it,” Ives said. “Dale did a great job of going through that recovery process. It was a long road, he proved to everybody that he could come back and be competitive and go out on his own terms.
“He was very honest about what the shop meant to him. He told some stories about past situations when he first came over to the shop and how intimidated he might have been by the success of Jimmie (Johnson) and Jeff (Gordon). Everyone opened their arms, put their best foot forward and here we are today.”
Ives said the team would be able to stay focused during the last 28 races of Earnhardt’s career.
“I think we knew in back of mind at some point it may happen,” he said. “Maybe we were surprised it happened yesterday. We know where Dale’s at. He’s been transparent and honest of where he’s at in his life. We’ll go out and stay focused. That comfort is there. We understand where we need to be. You’re in position to where you’re going to track to have some fun.”
Watch the full interview from NASCAR America in the video above.