CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Nearly every day brings a new experience for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who spent the first 43 years of his life living in a bubble that consisted of NASCAR and not much else.
Now that he has retired from full-time racing, he's got time to experience new adventures. Just last weekend, he went to brunch -- his first brunch ever -- with his wife and friends, then was persuaded to get his first pedicure.
The best is yet to come.
NBC Sports announced Tuesday it will use Earnhardt in its pregame show before the Super Bowl, then send him to South Korea for the network's coverage of next month's Olympics. Earnhardt retired from driving in November and signed on to be an analyst for NBC Sports, a gig that begins in July.
"It's not going to be putting me anywhere outside of my comfort zone; obviously I've never been to a Super Bowl or South Korea," Earnhardt told The Associated Press. "What they are asking me to do is just go out there and be myself and hopefully get people interested in tuning in to NASCAR."
NBC plans to use Earnhardt at the Super Bowl in outdoor events and activities taking place in Minneapolis in the days before the game. At the Olympics, he'll visit the speed skating venue and accept a recent social media invite from American bobsled team pilot Nick Cunningham to ride in a bobsled.
"We can't wait to get Dale's take on what is one of the most compelling aspects of the Winter Games -- sports that offer a mix of speed with the prospect of danger, an equation that he knows very well," said Jim Bell, president of NBC Olympics production and programming.
"Instead of the turns at Daytona, it's the downhill, the luge, and the short track oval. And I think he will have something unique to offer about the need for speed on snow and ice."
Earnhardt, a third-generation NASCAR driver, is the son of Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Sr. He grew up around racing and its grueling 11-month schedule that has drivers on the road and away from home at least three days a week. Although the Super Bowl is typically held before NASCAR's season-opening Daytona 500, rabid Washington Redskins fan Earnhardt said he never had a desire to go to the game.
"Not everybody goes to the Super Bowl," he said. "I was too young when the Redskins were going, I was still in school, and they haven't been since 1991. I definitely would have gone if they had played in one. But as a fan of a particular team, it sort of feels wrong to go to another game. I'd have a hard time even going to see the Redskins play in an opponent's stadium. If I had no purpose to be at the Super Bowl, besides to just see a game, it was hard to make that kind of time commitment."
And the Olympics? Well, that's a dream trip that Earnhardt never had the time to even dream of making. Asked Tuesday where he's been outside the United States, he listed Germany and France -- trips he took with hiswife -- as well as Mexico, Canada, Japan and Australia. He also once spent 24 hours in Monaco.
"When I was driving, I didn't want to do anything else," Earnhardt said. "Someone would say, 'Wow, I've got some time, let's go have some fun,' but I wouldn't want to do anything.
If I had a day to myself, I wouldn't want to go anywhere or do anything." Then he was sidelined for the second half of the NASCAR season with concussion symptoms, and Earnhardt was forced to expand his lifestyle.
"When I started peeling away the layers, I started losing some of that habit and getting more comfortable doing things," he said. "When we weren't in the car, you weren't supposed to be focused on anything else. When you went and did something, go to a concert, visit another city, you almost felt guilty for doing it. Like, we already have a pretty good lifestyle as race car drivers and can afford just about anything. So I just felt bad enjoying yourself.
"But when I was out of the car for so long, my doctor encouraged me to put myself in a lot of complex situations. That meant going to concerts and places I've never been and situations where I could push my anxiety. I'll tell you, I was like: 'Wow, this is what retirement is going to be like."
He said he's not nervous about transitioning into his new television career, or that his first real appearances as an NBC Sports analyst will be on two worldwide stages. Earnhardt, who recently learned to ski while in Aspen, Colorado, with Jimmie Johnson, is planning on bringing boots and a helmet to South Korea to try out the slopes. He's also eager to try the cuisine.
The only drawback is that pregnant wife Amy can't make the trip, and Earnhardt said he doesn't sleep well when they are apart. He figures worrying about her as she awaits their first child will make for long nights in South Korea.
He's confident, though, the network won't let him look like a fool and he's leaned heavily on former crew chief Steve Letarte, and former driver Jeff Burton, both members of NBC Sport's current NASCAR booth, for advice.
After his time at the Olympics, he'll head to Daytona Beach, Florida, for the season-opening Daytona 500. Earnhardt is the grand marshal for the race.
"I definitely wouldn't miss the first race of the year," he said. "I feel like I should be there."
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Felix Sabates confirmed to NBC Charlotte Thursday two NASCAR drivers are now part of the group he is assembling in the hopes of buying the Panthers. Sabates, who spoke by phone with NBC Charlotte’s Rad Berky, would not name the two drivers or say if they were current or former drivers like Dale Earnhardt, Jr. or Jeff Gordon for example.
Charlotte Motor Speedway's Smith family talks of joining bid Last week, NBC Charlotte first reported from sources NASCAR owner Brian France was part of the Sabates group. Sabates said Wednesday Bruton Smith, who operates Charlotte Motor Speedway and other tracks across the country, had had discussions with Sabates about joining the group, as did Smith’s son Marcus.
A NASCAR spokesperson would not comment on the significance, if any, of five individuals from NASCAR who were now interested in buying the Panthers. Sabates also said Thursday he has been in touch with Allen & Company, the New York based investment bank that is handling the sale of the Panthers. Sabates said it is now up to the bank to get back to him with more details about filing a formal bid. Earlier this week, NBC Charlotte reported from two sources that there is interest in building a new stadium for the Carolina Panthers in the Carowinds Boulevard area.
Farmer Jim Miller owns 220 acres of land right on the line between North and South Carolina and his property fits the bill. Sabates would not confirm to NBC Charlotte that he is looking at Miller's farm, but he has said if his group does buy the Panthers, they would need a new domed stadium with parking for 20,000 cars. The Miller farm would fit that bill with ample space for high-revenue parking, something an uptown location would likely not be able to offer. And there is this connection: Jim Miller has a son named Steve, whose wife went to school with Felix Sabates' son. Jim Miller is a longtime Panthers fan and said it was intriguing to think about the future and the possibility the Panthers would be playing on the old Miller homestead. “Yeah, that sounds pretty good, doesn't it?” he said with a smile. When Minneapolis built a new stadium, the city was awarded a Super Bowl. Dan McElroy, head of Hospitality Minnesota, said the state had to agree to dedicate 19,500 rooms to the NFL. The NFL requires at least 25-thousand hotel rooms to be available within an hour's drive of any stadium hosting the Super Bowl. Minneapolis has 8,973 rooms in the city and 41,612 in the Metro Area. Charlotte's numbers are even lower. The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority says there are 5,285 rooms in uptown and 26,408 in all of Mecklenburg County. Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt says more hotel rooms are being developed in uptown. "Oh, they are coming. Most of them are two to four hundred bed hotels," said Eiselt.
Excerpt from the Springfield News Leader with former Monster Energy Cup Series driver, Carl Edwards:
Edwards said he’s content with his life since he shocked the racing world one year ago by walking away from his ride with Joe Gibbs Racing, shortly after nearly winning a NASCAR Cup Series championship. He lives in the Columbia, Missouri area with wife Kate and their two children. Many people believe Edwards - who won 72 races in NASCAR’s top three divisions - will return to racing’s big leagues at some point. But he doesn’t sound like a guy who’s coming back.
“That was a pretty crazy pace there for about 15 years,” he said. “I’m an all-or-nothing person, sometimes to my detriment. It’s taken me about a year to actually wind down. I’m just now becoming the friend and the person I should be to a lot of people that I basically didn’t spend a lot of time with for a long time. It’s an amazing opportunity and I’ve really been enjoying it.”
Daniel Suarez, the 2016 Xfinity Series champion will have Peak Antifreeze as his sponsor in the July race at Chicagoland Speedway as part of an one-race deal.
Entering his second full-time season in the Monster Energy Series, Suarez has quickly got our attention with a series best finish of third coming at Watkins Glen International Speedway in August of 2017.
Daniel Suarez 2017 Statistics:
Top 5's - 1 (Watkins Glen)
Top 10's - 12
Avg. Start - 6.8
Avg. Finish - 10.8
Danica Patrick will appear on ABC'S Good Morning America Tuesday, January 2nd to discuss her new book "Pretty Intense", which went on sale December 26th of 2017. The book will detail Patrick's workout and eating regiments. Over her career, Patrick has shared with the public on social media her workout routines and has became an advocate of eating well and staying in shape. The book will give readers a 90-day program which is detailed to "sculpt your body", "calm your mind", and "achieve your greatest goals."
Patrick will hang up her driving helmet after the 2018 Daytona 500 & 2018 Indianapolis 500.
No word yet on who she will drive for in either race as that is still undetermined.
Tommy Joe Martins announced on Saturday that he would no longer continue to field a Camping World Truck series team as he shifts his focus to the Xfinity Series. In his tweet on Saturday, Martins would go onto to say, "It was a hard decision, a frustrating decision, but the right one for me & my family." Since 2006, Martins has competed in 29 Camping World Truck Series races with a best finish of 15th that would come in 2016 at Michigan International Speedway.
In 2018, Martins will join BJ McLeod Motorsports to focus on the next stages of his career and as of right he has a fifteen race deal with that team. Since 2014, Martins has 20 Xfinity career starts with his best NASCAR finish of 11th coming at Iowa Speedway in 2017.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s 2017 Axalta Racing Chevorlet from his final Monster Energy Cup Series race tops Lionel Racing's best-selling diecast list of 2017 and highest selling in the company's history.
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Axalta/Last Ride Chevorlet SS
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Gray Ghost Chevorlet SS
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Nationwide Chevorlet SS
4. Chase Elliott's Napa Racing Chevorlet SS
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Axalta/ Ducks Unlimited Chevorlet SS
6. Ryan Blaney Motorcraft/Pocono Win Ford Fusion
7. Kyle Busch M&M's Caramel/Bristol Win Toyota Camry
8. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Axalta Chevorlet SS
9. Chase Elliott Hooters Chevorlet SS
10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Mountain Dew/Talladega Chevorlet SS
Tuesday morning in downtown Charlotte at the Nascar Hall of Fame, Levine Family Racing unveiled the #95 Procore Camaro which will be piloted by Kasey Kahne begining in February at the 2018 Daytona 500.
Levine Family Racing announced in September that 18-time Monster Energy Cup Series winner Kasey Kahne will join their organization.
Procore will sponsor the #95 for select races in 2018 and 2019.
Adam Stern, writer for The Sports Business Journal tweeted late Sunday afternoon that Kurt Busch has signed a contract extension with Stewart-Haas Racing to continue driving the #41 Ford and plans that an announcement regarding his contract extension should come later this week.
In 4 years with Stewart-Haas Racing, Busch has claimed 5 victories most recently coming last February in the 2017 Daytona 500.
Eddie Wood, co-owner of Wood Brothers Racing underwent Heart Surgery on December 5, 2017.
Wood Brothers Racing via Twitter gave an update on his condition.