Dale Earnhardt Jr. is warming to the idea of possibly owning a team in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Offering a defiant “no” every time he has been previously questioned about the subject, Earnhardt responded to a fan question on his “Dale Jr. Download” podcast this week with a different tone. While reiterating that he and everyone at JR Motorsports enjoy competing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Earnhardt pointed to the changes sweeping through the Cup Series garage as having his attention.
“If it was financially a smart decision, you’d have to try it and we’ve got enough infrastructure here,” Earnhardt began, “I mean, we don’t know where this is going – field counts are down to 36 cars. If you can go in there and make some money and have some fun and race and run well…. You might not go out there and beat the big mega-buck teams right out of the gate [but], if you could run in the top 25 or something like that, man, that’d be kind of fun to try it.”
The field size in the Cup Series has been 36 (Atlanta) and 37 (Las Vegas) cars. NASCAR has 36 chartered teams in the series and the maximum field size is 40.
Earnhardt’s response didn’t go unnoticed by Mike Davis, who has worked for Earnhardt for many years. Davis pointeed out this was the first time Earnhardt had not shot down the idea.
“I’m not saying that it’s gonna happen and don’t think that’s our direction,” said Earnhardt. “There’s no vision to get there. No vision.
“But I’m certainly watching the state of the sport and if it becomes a situation where it’s financially a good decision – I love racing, I love to be racing, but I also think I hold my opportunity as a broadcaster way above competing as an owner in the Cup Series. And if trying to be an owner would adversely affect my opportunity being a broadcaster, I’d have to consider not doing that.”
Retired from full-time Cup Series competition at the end of the 2017 season, Earnhardt joined NBC Sports in a television role. He’s already participated in the Super Bowl and Olympics and will be in the broadcast booth when the network covers the second half of the NASCAR season beginning in July.