It was a busy Wednesday for NASCAR’s most popular driver. Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced that he will add a new primary sponsor for one NASCAR Sprint Cup race in 2016 as well as serve as a driver analyst for the NASCAR Xfinity series broadcast on Fox Sports next season. This season the Fox sports booth featured a rotation of drivers that included Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer and Danica Patrick.
“I had tweeted that I was interested in doing some XFINITY races, so I think I would like to try it,” Earnhardt said. “They extended the offer to me that we can give it a shot. I want to go up there next year and watch a few races, or watch one race, and see what I’m getting myself into. It looks like a lot of fun. All the drivers who did it last year (during FOX Sports’ 2015 NASCAR XFINITY SERIES coverage) looked great, sounded great, and they seemed to have a lot of fun doing it.”
Fox Sports made the news known Wednesday saying that the 12 time Most Popular Driver revealed his plans during an interview with “FOX Sports Live” co-hosts Dan O’Toole and Jay Onrait. As of the future beyond next year, Earnhardt wasn’t saying much.
“I don’t know if it’s a career path for me — it just depends,” he said.
That wasn’t the only Earnhardt related announcement Wednesday. The driver also announced that he and longtime Xfinity series sponsor TaxSlayer.com have extended their partnership adding a one race primary sponsorship for Earnhardt’s Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series in 2016. The company will begin its seventh year as primary sponsor for JR Motorsports, the company owned by Earnhardt that competes primarily in the NASCAR Xfinity series.
“It’s been a very long and rewarding relationship with the Xfinity program at JR Motorsports,” Earnhardt said. “The opportunity to work together on a Sprint Cup car is a show of appreciation for the relationship and how enjoyable it has been to work with TaxSlayer.”
TaxSlayer.com will receive primary placement on the Nos. 7 and 88 Chevrolet Camaros for 10 Xfinity races next season. The JR Motorsports Chevy has used a variety of drivers since its inception as a race team in 2002. Among the drivers who have raced in a JR team, in addition to Earnhardt, Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick have all raced in a JR Motorsports Chevy. The team has also fielded entries in the Camping World Truck Series and in regional late Model events.
Earnhardt has 25 Sprint Cup career victories, eight of which came under the Hendrick Motorsports banner. He has been voted NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver for 12 consecutive years.
“NASCAR fans are brand loyal,” Earnhardt said. “When a company shows loyalty as TaxSlayer has done, the fans really latch onto that. More fans will start to use TaxSlayer services strictly because of that relationship they have with the race team.”
UPDATE: Friday the news broke that Earnhardt Jr. may not be in broadcast booth for Fox in 2016 after all