Dale Earnhardt Jr. returns to racing at Richmond Raceway

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will get behind the wheel for his first and only NASCAR race this weekend at Richmond Raceway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. retired from racing full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series the conclusion of the 2017 season.

But since announcing his retirement in April 2017, many fans have been waiting for his return to racing at Richmond Raceway. Back in January, Earnhardt. Jr. confirmed with a Tweet that he would be behind the wheel at Richmond in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

Now that weekend is here and Earnhardt Jr. is ready for it.

“I’m prepared and have my bag ready to go, my helmet, my suit, everything in it, and I’ll be a busy, man, jostling between my responsibilities with NBC and covering practices and qualifications and so forth for the Cup event and then doing the practices and driving the car on the Xfinity side,” he said during an NBC IndyCar/NASCAR teleconference last week.

Earnhardt Jr. is no stranger to Richmond Raceway. His last win in the Xfinity Series came at Richmond in 2016. He led 129 of the 149 laps that day and picked up his first win in a JR Motorsports car.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. celebrates his win at Richmond Raceway in 2016. (World Copyright: Nigel Kinrade, NKP)

The race at Richmond will also be the first playoff race for the Xfinity Series. Earnhardt Jr.’s Xfinity team, JR Motorsports, will also three of their four drivers competing for a championship. Justin Allgaier, Elliott Sadler and Tyler Reddick will all begin their quest for a second straight championship for JRM during the weekend.

“It’ll be a busy weekend for me. Not something I’d want to be doing often, but there’s a little itch to scratch, and I’m looking forward to having this opportunity to race a little bit, have some fun,” Earnhardt Jr. said.

Could it be the last race for Earnhardt Jr. behind the wheel?

“It’s the only time I’m going to race a car this year. And it may be the last time I race a car,’’ he told NASCAR.com.

If it is, Earnhardt Jr. is going to make the most of it.

“We’re going to go over there, get out there and ride around and race hard, have fun,” he said on JR Motorsports’ website.

“I’m going to hopefully make all the laps and get everything out of it that I can in terms of enjoyment and fun.”

Follow Matt on Twitter @mattlovisa.