With reigning Cup Series champion Kyle Larson competing this week at the Chili Bowl Nationals, Hendrick Motorsports announced Monday that Earnhardt will test Larson’s #5 Chevrolet today (Tuesday) and tomorrow at Daytona International Speedway test.
The 47-year-old, who currently works as a NASCAR TV analyst for NBC, retired from the Cup Series at the end of the 2017 season but has since made irregular appearances in the second-tier Xfinity Series.
He has contested at least one race a season with his own JR Motorsports outfit, and his next planned race is on 8 April at Martinsville Speedway.
“Excited to get more time behind the wheel of this new car,” Earnhardt said in a message posted to his Twitter account.
“It’s absolutely necessary for me to do my best in the broadcast booth. Thanks Team Hendrick and NASCAR for the opportunity.”
Earnhardt most recently got to run several laps in a Next Gen car last October at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem during a Goodyear tyre test.
“It’s different than anything I’ve ever drove in NASCAR,” Earnhardt said after his first test of the new car.
“The braking ability and the braking performance of the car is probably the one thing that stood out to me the most. That was the one thing that took the most to get used to.
“I’m using the brake pedals the same way I’ve used the brake pedals all my life, but this car stops so much better.
Nascar Next Gen
Photo by: Grace Krenrich
“I’m over-slowing the car way too much. It has a bigger tyre on it, more grip. It has better drive off the corner with that tire.
“It just does everything better. It doesn’t feel too unfamiliar, it doesn’t feel too strange. It does everything like a stock car, just better.”
Retired three-time Cup champion Tony Stewart, now co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, and Earnhardt’s fellow driver-turned-TV broadcaster Clint Bowyer also participated in that event.
The tyre test was used in preparation for NASCAR’s plans to run the preseason exhibition Clash race in February on a made-from-scratch 0.25-mile asphalt track built inside the Los Angeles Coliseum.