When NASCAR fans arrive at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday for the Coca-Cola 600, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won’t be driving a race car like he has been for the past 18 years.
Instead, the sports’ former most popular driver is settling into his newest retirement role: fatherhood.
“It’s been pretty much what I expected in terms of the responsibilities and changing diapers,” Earnhardt said. “She has her own needs and you're responsible for this baby, it’s just hard to explain really.”
Earnhardt and his wife, Amy, welcomed Isla Rose Earnhardt on April 30, their first child since getting married on Dec. 31, 2016.
But, that’s not the only thing that Earnhardt has on his plate in his first year out of the car.
On top of being a dad for the first time, the Kannapolis native is preparing for his role as an analyst for NBC Sports.
Not only is he paying close attention to the Cup Series results, but he’s vigorously working to build chemistry with his soon-to-be broadcast partners. That includes training sessions here in Charlotte for races at other tracks.
“We have had some practice broadcasts,” Earnhardt said. “The race is actually in Talladega, and we’re doing our practice deal from here in Charlotte. It’s not exactly a perfect scenario, but it does give us an opportunity to knock the rust off.”
With the race in Charlotte this week, Earnhardt and the NBC Sports crew will get the chance to hold their practice broadcast live at the track.
The 43-year-old is set to make his broadcasting debut on July 1 at Chicagoland Speedway for the Overton’s 400.
'Whole truth' about retirement
Earnhardt is also working on the release of a new book, titled "Racing to the Finish: My Story."
In the book, he tells the story of what truly led to his retirement, including his battle with concussions towards the end of his career.
“We weren’t really telling the whole truth, and I couldn’t,” Earnhardt said. “Once I quit driving, I had no reason why I couldn’t tell the whole truth. So what I told you, or anyone else that you know is only about 25 percent of the story.”
The first transcript of the book has been written, which Earnhardt said turned out nicely.
The story will receive edits over the next several months before its anticipated release date of October 16.
Earnhardt is also continuing his philanthropic work through the Dale Jr. Foundation, which celebrated its 10-year anniversary last year.
The foundation has raised more than $4.2 million to benefit charities that directly impact local communities, schools and fellow citizens.
There are numerous ways to get involved with the foundation including Win Dale Jr.'s Ride, a raffle for a chance to win a new Chevrolet Corvette.
"This one's my favorite," Earnhardt said. "I like the color and interior combination. Just a beautiful car. Thankful to Chevrolet to loan us a Corvette every year, sort of one of their cornerstone or iconic cars and for them to give us one that we can auction off and raise money for our foundation, this is a real big ticket item for us."
You can find out more about Win Dale Jr.'s ride here.