Dale Earnhardt Jr. planning to race at Darlington this weekend despite recent plane crash scare

YouTube download / AP video / Dale Earnhardt Jr. is grateful to be back at Darlington Raceway preparing to drive two weeks after he and his family escaped a plane in flames following a crash in Tennessee.

By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Two-time Daytona 500 champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. is showing no signs of slowing down in his semi-retirement as he gears up for his NASCAR Xfinity Series 2019 season debut in Saturday's 37th annual Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, SC.

It was just two weeks ago that Earnhardt, his wife Amy, their daughter Isla, as well as their two pilots and dog Gus were involved in a plane crash during the Bristol racing weekend. All were reported to be safe following the incident, according to NASCAR.

Despite going through that, the former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver and two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion turned-NBCSN TV analyst has indicated he intends to race this weekend. 

"I plan on driving still," Earnhardt told a fan on Twitter after he was asked if he would race as scheduled at Darlington. "My lower back is bruised up real bad. Lots of swelling and I just need that to go down and the pain to chill out. (I've) been treating the area every day solely to get well to race. I have a plan B but hope not to use it."

"I plan on driving still," Earnhardt told a fan on Twitter after he was asked if he would race as scheduled at Darlington. "My lower back is bruised up real bad. Lots of swelling and I just need that to go down and the pain to chill out. (I've) been treating the area every day solely to get well to race. I have a plan B but hope not to use it."

Earnhardt is expected to be in the JR Motorsports No. 8 Chevrolet with crew chief Taylor Moyer on the pit box. 

"There are many things I love about Darlington that contributed to my decision to run there this year, but the main reason is the track surface," Earnhardt said after the official announcement was made in late February. "I love races where you have to be smart and manage your tires. Darlington is slick, and it wears out tires. It’s one of the few stops on the circuit that provides that challenge."

Earnhardt, 44, has made four Xfinity Series starts at Darlington, posting one top five and two top 10s. 

This will be just his second NASCAR national series start since retiring at the conclusion of 2017 season. He competed in a Xfinity Series event at Richmond Raceway last season; he started second and finished fourth. 

Editor's Note: Information from NASCAR Media was used for this racing advance.
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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.