CONCORD, N.C. -- While recovering from a concussion that has sidelined Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the majority of the 2016 season, the driver has been keeping plenty busy.
"Following on Twitter is fun because all these folks in here are obviously plugged in and tweeting from the event," Earnhardt said. "There are conversations that are going on outside of the broadcast on social media that are fun to be a part of."
Earnhardt said that initially, he wasn't sure what it would be like to be at the racetrack as a spectator rather than a driver.
"I wasn’t really sure exactly how that was going to feel being around and coming to the track," Earnhardt said. "I was very apprehensive and real nervous. I feel like and I talked to (Hendrick Motorsports owner) Rick (Hendrick) and I tell him all the time I feel like being in the car is what I’m supposed to do and not being in the car brings on a sense of guilt that I’m not doing my responsibilities."
However, throughout his recovery this season, Earnhardt has maintained a presence at the racetrack, whether spending time with the No. 88 Chevrolet SS team, stepping in as a guest analyst in the NBC Sports or Motor Racing Network booths or for participating in various other appearances.
"It has been a great time," Earnhardt said of his recent experience as a live analyst at Talladega and Martinsville. "I much more enjoy being at the races, watching live and being in the booth is a real thrill. Seeing the MRN booth was equally as impressive because those guys have a little bit tougher job sort of painting out what is happening to the public. It takes a real unique individual to do radio."
While he has thoroughly enjoyed his experiences outside the car this season, there is no doubt that Earnhardt is ready to get back behind the wheel.
"Obviously, I miss being in the car, want to be in the car, would rather be racing," Earnhardt said, "but until that happens, until I can get back in the car, I’ve got to do things to keep myself busy. Things like that are really good for me. It’s not only good therapy, but I need to be doing something. I love being around the sport and I want to feel like I’m an asset to something."
The 42-year-old said his goal to be in the car for the start of the 2017 season is on track with his recovery.
“My intentions are to race and that is the plan that we have going forward so we are booking things as per usual," the driver said. "We are doing all our photo shoots and everything with anticipation of our sponsors marketing me as the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet SS. I think that is perfectly on track and a reasonable goal to be in the car and be competing in Daytona."