Dale Earnhardt Jr. will race at Darlington and honor his father

Dale Earnhardt Jr, driver of the #88 Hellmann's Camaro Chevrolet, is introduced prior to the NASCAR Xfinity Series Go Bowling 250 at Richmond Raceway on September 21, 2018 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

DARLINGTON, S.C. — Dale Earnhardt Jr. is only mostly retired, so he doesn’t plan to miss driving at one of his favorite tracks when NASCAR goes to Darlington Raceway in South Carolina next weekend.

Earnhardt, who was in a plane crash last week along with his wife, daughter and two pilots, said he’s still hurting from the wreck but plans to take the wheel of a car in the Xfinity Series on August 31.

“My lower back is bruised up real bad. Lots of swelling and I just need that to go down and the pain to chill out,” he tweeted. “I’ve been treating the area every day solely to get well to race.”

Earnhardt retired from full-time racing in 2017 because of the effects of concussions, but he has raced once since then — last year in an Xfinity race at Richmond. Earnhardt is now a team owner and a television analyst for NBC.

The younger Earnhardt will drive a car that looks similar to the one his father drove for his Cup debut, NBC reports. “I think the one thing that is fun about this whole experience is to be able to draw attention to the paint scheme, the story behind the paint scheme,” he said. “Not only is it dad’s first race in the Cup series in 1975 at Charlotte but the family behind the car and the story about how dad got into the car.

On Monday, after skipping the races in Bristol, Tennessee, near where his plane crashed after a hard landing, Earnhardt thanked his pilots, emergency responders and hospital workers.

“We are truly blessed that all on board escaped with no serious injuries, including our daughter, our two pilots and our dog Gus,” Earnhardt added.

Racing fans are looking forward to Earnhardt’s one on-track appearance this year. He holds the record for winning the circuit’s most popular driver award 15 years in a row.

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