Amy Earnhardt

Emotions building for Dale Earnhardt Jr. as he nears end of Cup career


AVONDALE, Arizona — Dale Earnhardt Jr. admits the emotions are building as he enters his final two weekends driving in the Cup Series.

I feel like I almost need to apologize because I’ve got a pregnant wife, I’m retiring and I just feel like I’m going to break down any minute,’’ Earnhardt said Friday at Phoenix Raceway. “I feel like every answer that I have has some sort of sad undertones and very emotional temperament, but … yeah, it’s starting to really sink in.’’

Earnhardt’s Cup career will end next weekend in Miami. He’s said he’ll drive a couple of Xfinity races next year. He’ll join NBC’s coverage of NASCAR next season.

“(I) got here and I’m like, ‘man it’s just a week away’,’’ Earnhardt said. “I am not sure that I’m … ready to be going through all of that emotion that I will have in Homestead, but it’s coming. I hope that I can handle it well, but it’s definitely going to be interesting to see how that feels. 

“Amy being pregnant, bless her heart, she is tearing up at the drop of a hat. All these videos and all these things that our partners are creating, this content has just been incredible. It makes you feel so good in your heart. The comments from fans. It is more than you can process, and I’m sure that Homestead is just going to be like the cork coming out of the bottle. 

“I’m lucky that Amy is going to be there, I’m lucky my family will be there and my team. I will have so much support and I want to support them. It’s going to be emotional for them and our fans. I don’t know really how to describe it, but I hope that you guys don’t mind it being a little bit heavy.”

Earnhardt also was asked Friday about when in his career he emerged from his father’s shadow.

“I read something on Twitter the other day about my brother, he said he has always lived under Dad’s shadow and that is not such a bad thing,” Earnhardt said. “I don’t know that you are always out from under it, but it didn’t bother me. I was always compared to him and compared to his success, the person he was, people either liked I was different or didn’t like that I was different and wanted me to be just like him or whatever. 

“It was often in conversation or part of the topic of conversation in articles and so forth. I really don’t know when that started to happen. I guess it is happening now. I am going to go do something else after I’m done driving. Hopefully, I’m just as proud of my accomplishments in the booth as I am on the race track. I would love for that career to be a success and that would definitely be out from under his shadow. But it’s not something I really put a lot of thought into. 

“I just miss him so bad and wish he were here today to see all this happening.”

MORE: Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Greatest Moments: First Xfinity title

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MORE: Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Greatest Moments: All-Star win

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. bursting with joy over thoughts of baby girl

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KANSAS CITY, Kansas — They laughed.

When the doctor told Dale Earnhardt Jr. and wife Amy that Amy was pregnant, the couple laughed.

It wasn’t the kind of laugh one makes after a joke or a funny story. It was … well, let Dale explain:

“Something just comes out,’’ Earnhardt said Saturday at Kansas Speedway. “You just burst out like joy. It wasn’t funny ha-ha. It was a joyful moment.’’

And then they got to hear the heartbeat.

“Somebody says you’re wife is pregnant, that registers a little bit but, man, when you hear that heartbeat, it’s like yep, it’s real,’’ Earnhardt said. “This is a real thing in there. It’s here. My God, it’s happening. Just all this emotion pops out.’’

The prelude to the excitement was the waiting. It was almost too much for Earnhardt when they first went to the doctor’s office to confirm that Amy was pregnant.

We went to the doctor and I’m still thinking man, I’m not believing crap until this doctor tells me,’’ Earnhardt said. “So, we’re sitting in there for like 20 minutes. And they’re talking woman language and I’m not understanding. They are just talking about things and I’m like well, when is she going to say it? I want to hear it from the doctor’s mouth that she’s pregnant, so we can rejoice.

“It took them a while. I was scared to speak up. Finally, they said something that confirmed it for me and I was like, awesome. And then we had the ultrasound and got to hear the heartbeat and all that right there, and that was great. We go back for another checkup here soon, in a couple of days, and those are awesome. They are so much fun because it’s like the closest you can get to it before they’re born and I’m looking forward to each and every one of them.”

Earnhardt said on his podcast this week that the baby is due May 2.

“I know that Amy has changed my life a lot, and I imagine this baby is going to have the same impact and just can’t wait to meet her,’’ Earnhardt said Saturday. “It’s just taking forever.”

Earnhardt says he understands the excitement friends and family have had with their children.

“I guess the thing that hits me is I’ve watched all my friends, a lot of them, have kids and my sister have kids,’’ he said. “I was happy for those milestones in their lives, but I had no idea what that really meant. And as we found out and were going through these little moments through the pregnancy it’s just hitting home how impactful that child has been in all the lives of my friends and family. And I just really didn’t understand or appreciate, I guess, how incredible that moment must have been for them and how their lives completely changed. I saw it from a completely different point of view when I wasn’t experiencing it myself. 

“I look at my friends completely different. I look at my sister completely different knowing what I know now and what I’m learning as I go. And I know there is more to be exposed to and more enlightening and more eye-opening experiences that will make me not only appreciate what me and Amy, what we have, but what my friends and family and folks that I am very close to have and what they have experienced. 

“Because I thought I knew, childbirth is exciting, it’s awesome to have children and everybody says it changes your life and everybody says it’s the greatest thing ever, but you just don’t know until you really go through it.’’

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Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist to feature Dale Earnhardt Jr. interview

NBC's “Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist”
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If you’re a Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan, you don’t want to miss his interview on “Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist” — this Sunday at 8 a.m. ET on NBC.

Junior talks with Willie about his career and pending retirement from NASCAR Cup at the end of this season.

One thing Junior laments about is that his late father, Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt, won’t be around to know Junior’s wife, Amy, and their children.

The couple announced earlier this week that Amy is due to have their first child, a daughter, in May.

“He was this really special, special person,” Dale Jr. said of his father. “He just was everybody’s hero. … People loved him. When he walked into a room, it changed.”

Click here for a clip of that interview.

Also during that wide-ranging interview, Junior took Willie on the ride of his life in a Chevrolet Corvette.

Make sure to catch the entire interview with Dale Earnhardt Jr. this Sunday at 8 a.m. ET on NBC’s “Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. announces he and wife Amy are expecting a girl

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. will retire from NASCAR into fatherhood.

The 14-time most popular driver announced via an Instagram post that he and his wife, Amy, are expecting a girl.

Earnhardt has five races remaining in his final full-time season in the Cup Series before joining the NBC Sports broadcast team in 2018.

Earnhardt said one of his peers actually had predicted the news six weeks ago, just after the couple had learned of the pregnancy.

Earnhardt’s family (personal and professional) also has embraced the news.


Amy Earnhardt to drive pace car for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s final Martinsville race

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Amy Earnhardt will drive the pace car and lead the field to the green flag for the Oct. 29 First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway, the final Cup race for husband Dale Earnhardt Jr. at that track.

“I was very excited when the track approached me about driving the pace car,” Amy Earnhardt said in a statement from the track. “Martinsville is one of Dale’s favorite tracks and seeing how happy he and the team were in Victory Lane in 2014 is something I’ll never forget. I appreciate the track letting me be a small part of Dale’s last race at a place that means so much to him.”

Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell said having Amy Earnhardt drive the pace car is a way to give back to Dale Earnhardt Jr. for all he has done for Martinsville Speedway and NASCAR.

“The Earnhardt family has meant so much to Martinsville Speedway through the years, Dale in particular, and we wanted for him to be able to share his last Cup race here with the person closest to him,” Campbell said in a statement from the track. “Dale has often talked about how much Amy has meant to him and this is one small way in which we can say ‘thank you’ to the both of them; to Dale for what he has meant to the sport and to Amy for what she has meant to Dale.”

The First Data 500 is the opening race of the Round of 8.