Dale Earnhardt Jr. is set to retire at the end of the 2017 NASCAR season, but a win earlier this month at Daytona qualified the driver for next year's Clash. Following the qualifying race, Earnhardt was asked if he would return to run in the race.
“I will talk to my boss (Rick Hendrick) and see what he has got in the shed," Earnhardt said before adding that his wife, Amy, would have to be convinced before he would race.
Amy followed up the statement with one of her own on Twitter that read: “I’ve received many comments on Dale Jr running the 2018 Clash, based on whether or not I give my blessing. Considering his struggles last fall with his injury, we are very blessed that he is now healthy, happy and able to enjoy his final season … and hopefully many years beyond racing. So my answer is simple. It’s not worth the risk of his health.”
The couple received much criticism following the post with fans upset that Earnhardt was seemingly allowing his wife to make the decision about whether or not he would race again. The 42-year old NASCAR driver addressed his frustrated fans during a press conference at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday and defended his wife's stand against his return to racing in 2018.
"You know, she had to put something out because she felt like she needed to say something. I put her in that position. It was probably my fault for throwing her under the bus like that. But, she's been there for everything and a lot of folks that may have a different opinion about it weren’t there through the whole process," Earnhardt said of the injuries that kept him from 18 races during the 2016 season. "If anyone knows how difficult it was, besides me, it would be her. It wasn't a lot of fun for her."
Earnhardt also addressed his racing history, something he called "feast or famine," and said the risk probably isn't even worth it. "If it's something she feels strongly about, we have to sit down and I have to hear her out."
The Clash is a 75-lap race made up of the pole winners from the previous year, previous Clash race winners and former Daytona race winners who competed full-time the previous year. The race is known for its high number of crashes.
“I feel much more in control of my own fate in the remainder of this season and anything I do beyond that,” he said, “than I do being out there in The Clash."
What do you think about Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s statement? Do you agree with his wife's hesitation to let him race after retirement?
Watch Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s press conference statement below.
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