Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Nearing Retirement, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Thankful for NASCAR Success, Impending Fatherhood

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Nearing Retirement, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Thankful for NASCAR Success, Impending Fatherhood

Article excerpt

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. is rapidly reaching the end of his NASCAR career as a full-time driver, with just five races remaining before he steps into retirement at the end of the 2017 season.

But the 43-year-old Earnhardt figures to be busier than ever in the wake of Monday's announcement that he and his wife, Amy, are expecting a baby girl.

"Oh man, it's just been really hard to keep that in and not share," Earnhardt said Saturday at Kansas Speedway. "I just couldn't wait to tell everybody. Certainly, we have a lot of checkups and we are very thankful and looking forward to the whole process of watching and being involved.

"I'm just trying to be as supportive as I can to Amy, making sure she feels well and is comfortable. I'm just trying to soak in all the experiences of going to the doctor and listening to the heartbeat and all those little things that you do. They are incredible."

Earnhardt, who found that Amy was pregnant earlier this fall, said that being a father-to-be has already changed his perspective.

"I guess the thing that hits me is I've watched all my friends, a lot of them, have kids and my sister have kids," he said. "I was happy for those milestones in their lives, but I had no idea what that really meant. And as we found out and we're going through these little moments through the pregnancy it's just hitting home how impactful that child has been in all the lives of my friends and family. I look at my friends completely different. I look at my sister completely different knowing what I know now and what I'm learning as I go.

"I hate that I didn't appreciate it as much, but you just don't until you go through it. That is something that is really eye-opening. I know that Amy has changed my life a lot and I imagine this baby is going to have the same impact and I just can't wait to meet her. I'm just thrilled to meet her and it's just taking forever."

Earnhardt, who will make his final Kansas Speedway start in Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400, was honored by Speedway officials Saturday in the media center, including a video-taped message from Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost, who was a close friend of Dale Jr. …

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