The 15-time Cup Series Most Popular Driver has his sights set on another start in 2022, albeit in a different series. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has confirmed that he plans on taking part in an August race at North Wilkesboro Speedway.
Earnhardt provided the update on June 22 after taking part in a test session at a historic track. He completed several laps around North Wilkesboro Speedway in a JR Motorsports Late Model, which he shared with both Josh Berry and Carson Kvapil. Earnhardt then confirmed that he wants to compete in an upcoming race.
“After what I experienced today, I got intentions of signing up and running the CARS Tour race,” Earnhardt told Racing America after his test session. Earnhardt then confirmed that JR Motorsports will have two entries in the races on Tuesday, August 30, and Wednesday, August 31. His goal is to drive one of them while celebrating the return of racing to the historic track.
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This Test Was Earnhardt’s First Time at the Track Since the 1990s
The Hall of Famer spent time competing at North Wilkesboro Speedway early in his racing career. He drove the No. 3 Sun Drop at the track back in 1993, and he last completed laps around it in 1995. However, he made his return in 2022 and tested out the pavement once again.
Earnhardt’s post-session interview was not the first time that he has talked about making a return to North Wilkesboro Speedway. He also did so on April 17 when Speedway Motorsports announced that grassroots racing will return in August before the track crews tear up the asphalt.
Earnhardt dropped the tease on Twitter. He posted a photo of him standing next to the No. 3 Sun Drop car and he asked if they should “run it back.” Earnhardt also tagged Sun Drop while creating intrigue.
With Earnhardt taking one entry, there are now questions about which JR Motorsports driver will join him. Kvapil is the current driver of the No. 8 on the CARS Tour, and he has wins at Caraway Speedway and Franklin County Speedway. Berry has the most wins in series history, and he is the 2017 CARS Late Model Stock Car Tour champion.
Another Hall of Famer Tested at North Wilkesboro Speedway
Earnhardt’s test session follows another made by a fellow Hall of Famer. Bobby Labonte, the 2000 Cup Series champion, joined some SMART Modified Tour drivers at the track after Chris Williams, director of the SMART Modified Tour, organized the session. He then completed around 50 laps in his open-wheel Modified.
“So, when the deal came about that they were going to do this, he jumped right on it and asked [XR Events] and then [Speedway Motorsports] if we can race up there,” Labonte told Heavy. “So we had to go up there and kind of get cars on the racetrack to see what it’s gonna be like.”
Labonte and his fellow drivers tested out different tire compounds to see how they would last over the expected lengths of the upcoming races. They learned that the tire wear was fairly excessive, but there is a possibility that it will become less so as more drivers test out the aged surface.