Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been medically cleared to return for the 2017 NASCAR Monster Energy Series.
In an exclusive interview with NBC Sports’ Dave Burns, Earnhardt talked about the his first laps back in a car Wednesday at Darlington, what made him want to get back behind the wheel and the fear that comes with the sport.
“It was great,” Earnhardt told Burns of Wednesday’s five-hour, nearly 200 laps test. “I was real nervous, a lot of anxiety but excited. As soon as I got into my suit … I was ready to get it going.
“We ran about 200 laps and all of them felt great. I look forward to getting back in the car and testing at Phoenix in January.”
It was important for Earnhardt — who also said “I wasn’t ready to retire” — to test himself, but equally as important for his doctors to see in-person that he successfully has overcome the concussion-like symptoms that sidelined him for a full half-season.
“It was something good for my doctors to see and I know they wanted to get me in a car and see how I responded,” Earnhardt said. “But it was good for me, too, to not have to sit through the whole off-season wondering what it would be like once I got into a race car.”