Say it ain’t so: Is Dale Earnhardt Jr. REALLY 40 years old?


CONCORD, N.C. – If you’re a Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan, you probably wish Friday was a national holiday.

After all, Junior has finally hit the big 4-0. Isn’t that enough of a reason to have a paid day off and to throw a big party for your favorite driver?

Yep, the same red headed kid millions fell in love with back in the late 1990s and then watched as the Junior Nation exploded with members after he moved to the Sprint Cup world in 2000, is 40 years old as of Friday.

Much like many of us when we hit that age milestone, Earnhardt has both been looking forward to and also dreading turning 40.

“I think that 40 to me means, whoa, I’ve still got a lot of fun stuff I want to do, slow down,” Earnhardt said Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway during his weekly media availability. “I’m like aging in literal years faster than I am physically and mentally.”

Earnhardt realizes he’s on the downside of his racing career, but that also means he has other things to look forward to achieving in the years and decades to come in his life.

“I feel like I just have a lot of things that I’ve yet to accomplish, not only in racing, but in life in general, lot of fun that I’m not done having,” he said. “I feel great. You kind of reflect a little bit and you think about how lucky everything has worked out and how fortunate.

“What a hell of a deal. I mean I’ve had so much fun. Done a lot of great things and been a lot of crazy places and have had some fun times. Hopefully, the next 10 (years) will be just as good and we will just keep going.”

Girlfriend Amy Reimann threw a surprise party for her beau earlier this week, but there’s additional blowouts still to be had, including a big fan party at CMS in the afternoon before Saturday’s race.

“I didn’t have any clue,” the birthday boy said of of the surprise party Reimann threw for him. “I was trying to look at my calendar. I’ve got something going on just about every single day; I don’t have any days off this month.

“That was really the way they got me. I couldn’t figure out what day they might surprise me. We had an appearance get cancelled and I started getting some ideas that maybe that was all together fake to begin with.

“I walked downstairs in my basement where all my family and friends were. They got me man, it was good, it was real good. Amy and everybody did a great job putting that thing together. It was a fun time.

“A lot of people there I hadn’t seen in so long, a lot of drivers that I raced with. It’s awesome when your peers come out and support and celebrate your life with you like that. That meant a lot. Just a lot of people were there that I hadn’t seen in so long.”

While Earnhardt has already received tons of presents and well wishes, there’s still one present he wants to give himself: a win in Saturday night’s race.

“I feel like we have a great opportunity this weekend,” he said. “I think I would feel that way no matter what week it was, no matter whether I was having my birthday or not.

“But we have had a good week. I guess there are still some surprises to come, but we will hopefully win the race and that will be the biggest surprise.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”