Dale Earnhardt Jr. spent about 20 minutes talking to the media Wednesday morning at Daytona 500 media day and he was as insightful and enlightening as ever. Here are a few takeaways from what he said:
▪ Earnhardt said he would consider retiring if he won the Cup championship this season. “This is the last year of my (contract with Hendrick Motorsports). I would like to race more. But if I win the championship, I'd have to consider going out on top. It just really depends on a lot of different things. That's the last box I don't have checked, really. There's a few races I'd like to win. The championship would definitely be the icing on the cake for my career.”
▪ He said one reason he tries to be as truthful as he can with the media is “I like to try to control the narrative.” He added, “We'll just try to keep being that way, keep being as honest as possible. (I like to) give you guys the information you want. That way the fans and stuff aren't making assumptions. It gives me a lot of peace of mind to make sure the right information's out there so people aren't making up their own assumptions on what's going on. That's helped me a lot. It's given me a lot of peace of mind.”
▪ Earnhardt, who is returning to racing after missing 18 races last season with a concussion, said one reason he got along so well with his doctor (Dr. Micky Collins of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center), was that Collins wasn’t interested in Earnhardt’s health as it related to him returning to racing. Earnhardt said Collins wanted him to recover so he could lead a normal life.
▪ On why he was so public in how he dealt with his concussion: “If it helps somebody, that's important. If it taught someone a lesson or helped someone, that's awesome. I feel fortunate to have a lot of ammunition and understanding of what I'm dealing with. I don't want to be defined by the concussion, but I certainly love to help people, no matter what it is. If I can help anyone take care of themselves and avoid further injury or get the right treatment, get clear, that's a great thing. I love to do that.”
▪ He has always been impressed with Charlotte’s William Byron, who will drive this season in the Xfinity Series for JR Motorsports, of which Earnhardt is a part owner. “He’s kind of the total package, on and off the track,” Earnhardt said of Byron. “The guy is so impressive.”