One of the greatest drivers to ever navigate the high banks of Daytona International Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr., is making his return — to test the No. 5 Next Gen car for Hendrick Motorsports.
On Monday, Hendrick Motorsports fired off a tweet announcing that 26-time NASCAR Cup Series race winner, Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has been retired from the Cup Series since 2017, would be sliding behind the wheel of their No. 5 Next Gen car at Daytona International Speedway this week in a test.
Three of HMS’ four drivers (Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman) are in Tulsa, Oklahoma competing in the Chili Bowl Nationals this week. So, for Hendrick, Earnhardt being tapped as a test driver helped them bring two cars for the test.
William Byron will also be on hand to test the team’s No. 24 Next Gen car.
— Hendrick Motorsports (@TeamHendrick) January 10, 2022
The Next Gen test at Daytona International Speedway is a two day session on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. The first day, which runs from 12pm EST to 8pm EST will be open to the fans. The second day of the test, which runs from 9am EST to 5pm EST will not be open to fans.
NASCAR will stream the test on their youtube channel.
Earnhardt, who was thrilled with the performance of the Next Gen car at a test at Bowman Gray Stadium in October, will get back behind the wheel to lend his superspeedway driving experience to the team, and possibly NASCAR, as the sanctioning body hones in on the new car hitting the track for the 2022 season.
For Earnhardt, the experience in the Next Gen is something that will help him as an analyst in the booth, while broadcasting the races this year.
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) January 10, 2022
Earnhardt, 47, is a two-time Daytona 500 champion (2004 and 2014) and he secured 10 of his 26 NASCAR Cup Series wins at Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway — the two restrictor plate race tracks on the schedule.