Dale Earnhardt Jr. is back. Well, sort of. Earnhardt Jr. will test Kyle Larson’s No. 5 Chevrolet with Hendrick Motorsports during the Next Gen test at the Daytona International Speedway. As to why Earnhardt? He’s not doing so in terms of a potential comeback as this has no merit on a future NASCAR Cup Series return. He’s happy running one NASCAR Xfinity Series race a year and keeping his job with NBC Sports. This is actually mostly due to that NBC Sports gig as being in the car helps keep him fresh in the booth. w
See, in order to be crisp and accurate behind the mic when being an analyst in the booth, you want to have real life experience from inside of the car. With a brand new car for 2022, none of the former drivers in the booth have time in it for obvious reasons. How can you accurately portray what’s going on from inside of the cockpit for this upcoming season on when you’ve not raced it or even been inside of it?
Earnhardt and Clint Bowyer tested it at Bowman Gray Stadium this past fall and now Earnhardt gets a nod in it at Daytona in order to help his work in the booth.
The other part of this reasoning is, three of the four Cup drivers for HMS will be in Tulsa this week for the Chili Bowl. Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson each are taking part in the preliminary action this week for the prestigious Midget race. William Byron is not which is why he is in the No. 24 Chevrolet. Earnhardt, will be in the No. 5.
This is part of a larger scale test on the high banks this week. A two-day test will take place Tuesday-Wednesday. Four car teams like HMS are allowed to have two cars at the test. Two car teams are allowed one car and when doing so, teams split the workload among their drivers.
There will be another test in a couple weeks at Phoenix to close out the month (Jan. 25-26) before setting sails for Los Angeles for the Clash (Feb. 5-6).
INDYCAR will be testing today at Sebring with RLL having Christian Lundgaard in their No. 30 Honda and Meyer Shank Racing having their two car tandem between Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves joining him.
Next week there will be another test with Foyt and Penske.