DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) Dale Earnhardt Jr. won a checkered flag before he leaves to check out Olympic gold.
Earnhardt departs Monday for South Korea to start his Olympics coverage for NBC Sports. Earnhardt retired from driving in November and signed on to be an analyst, and he gets his next shot behind the mic next week after making his debut at the Super Bowl.
Will he slide into a bobsled?
Slip on some skis?
Earnhardt, long NASCAR’s most popular driver, has yet to receive his assignments from the network.
”I know that they won’t set me up to fail,” Earnhardt said Saturday. ”They want to have good TV and they’re not going to put me in position where I won’t be able to somehow help deliver that. We’re going to have some fun. Whatever that is, we’ll find out in the very last minute.”
Earnhardt won a race as a NASCAR team owner down to less than the very last second. He reached victory lane on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway when Tyler Reddick won the closest race in NASCAR history driving for JR Motorsports. The margin of victory was 0.000 seconds.
His victory lane celebration was just one more event on the schedule for Earnhardt, who will serve as the grand marshal in Sunday’s Daytona 500. The two-time Daytona 500 winner has been busy already in retirement. Earnhardt and his wife Amy are expecting their first child in May and the couple had been filming a home-improvement series in Florida.
”Amy says when I’m home and don’t have anything to do, I just get up off the couch pacing around the house,” Earnhardt said.
Earnhardt is a third-generation NASCAR driver and the son of Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt. He won 26 career Cup races and 14 straight most-popular driver awards.
He’d like to play a role as more of a quizzical sightseer in South Korea than as a crash test dummy suiting up to try new sports. NBC Sports executive Sam Flood told Earnhardt to leave his gear behind.
”I do know that we’re going to go see a lot of events,” Earnhardt said. ”He said just don’t get here and not know what’s happened. I’ve been watching everything and learning a lot. Hopefully, when I get there, we’re going to have some fun.”
He’s ready to dig in – especially when it comes to sampling the food, including Korean barbecue.
”Can’t wait to try some of that,” he said. ”That’s going to be awesome.”
More AP Auto Racing: https://racing.ap.org