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.”