If you’re expecting an invitation to the wedding of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Amy Reimann, you may have to keep waiting awhile.
“We haven’t set a date. We’re thinking next winter, probably. … It’s more than 12 months away,” Earnhardt said Thursday morning on NBCSN’s Dan Patrick Show.
Fresh off his win last weekend at Phoenix, Earnhardt talked about a number of subjects including teammate Jeff Gordon’s retirement and final championship bid on Sunday and Junior’s own retirement.
But getting back to his engagement, Earnhardt shared a story about just how nervous he was when the time came to propose to Amy in a church in Germany while on vacation this past June.
When Patrick asked him if the engagement ring was “burning a hole in your pocket,” Earnhardt demurred.
“Actually, I didn’t trust myself with it, so my sister (Kelley) carried it the entire time,” Earnhardt said. “She was in the church the entire time with us.
“So, we’re all standing there ,and I tried to give Kelley the signal to pull it out. She was (like my engagement ring crew chief). It was something else, man. I was nervous.”
As for being part of Jeff Gordon’s final race Sunday, Earnhardt said all four drivers have a good chance to win. But we know where his loyalty lies.
“It’s hard to pick one guy because they’re all kind of showing good speed right now,” Earnhardt said. “I’m obviously going to pull for my teammate, Jeff Gordon, because I want boss man to be happy and that would be a hell of a way to go out.
“He’s been racing for 20-some years now and still has the ability to go out and win races and battle for championships to the very end. What a storybook ending that would be if he got the championship.”
As for his own retirement, Earnhardt feels he still has several more good years of racing left in him. When Patrick asked if that meant at least five more years, Earnhardt tried to avoid the question initially, but eventually acquiesced.
“Five more years? That’s tough,” he said. “I’m getting up there. I’m 41 now. I like what I’m doing, I’m having fun. I’m having more fun now than I think I’ve ever had driving cars, and I think I’m better than I’ve ever been.
“I feel like that, you think all the time, ‘Man, I wish I could go back and redo all those early years knowing what I know now.’ I feel like I’m at the top of my game, I feel the team I’m with is really jelling. (Crew chief Greg Ives) and I hit it off pretty good in our first year, and I think each year we’ll get better, like I did with (former crew chief Steve Letarte).
“At this moment, I’ve got my health and I get to choose. When you decide to retire, you want it to be on your own terms, not because of health or because of something else. You don’t want to be forced out.
“So, right now, it looks like I’ll be able to make that choice on my own terms and whenever I feel like retiring, I’ll retire. I can’t quit with any kind of regrets. I feel right now everything is going so good and I’m running so well. I’ve won six races in the last two years.
“After struggling for five, six years and not winning any races and everybody doubting me, it’d be hard to hang it up knowing how good things are right now. So I’m going to roll with what’s happening and keep racing. Whenever I’m not cutting it as a driver or holding up this team, then I’ll have to make that decision, but I don’t think it’ll be anytime soon. Five years from now, I expect to be racing.”
How does his future look, Patrick asked Earnhardt?
“Life’s good,” Earnhardt said. “We just came off a win at Phoenix and I’m working on my first year with Greg Ives as my crew chief and that’s going good. The future looks good.”