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

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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.”

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IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.