This year's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards were held in Nashville after nearly 10 years in Las Vegas, and for Dale Earnhardt Jr., that change was a welcome one.
"This town feels like a homecoming in a sense, for our sport, there's a lot of history here with NASCAR," he told PopCulture.com at this year's awards, referencing the city's Fairgrounds Speedway and another racing complex outside of Nashville. "But there's also a great, great relationship, a strong relationship with the music industry here in Nashville, that can only get stronger and present a lot of opportunities for artists and our drivers to do a lot of work together and cross-promote throughout the year. It's a fun town to celebrate anything in, so we're enjoying that. Going out to the bars and so forth and having a lot of fun with our friends."
As for his favorite honky tonk in Music City, Earnhardt Jr. named Lonnie's Western Room, a karaoke bar just off of Broadway on Church Street that has played host to stars including Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride and Jimmy Fallon.
"Lonnie's is a great place to do a little karaoke, so I end up going there every once in a while," he said. "We went to Tootsie's last night, but Lonnie's is good. Lonnie's is a lot of fun."
The two-time Daytona 500 winner was on hand during this year's ceremony to present Chase Elliott with the Most Popular Driver Award, an honor Earnhardt Jr. won fifteen consecutive times from 2003–2017. The 45-year-old retired from full-time racing at the end of the 2017 season and now drives in sporadic events and works as a commentator on NASCAR on NBC, though he admitted that being on the other side of the microphone isn't always easy.0comments
"I think live TV is so hard, and interviewing people is hard, and I'm learning," he explained. "I never had any background in that, so I'm sort of learning on the fly on how to do that, and it's a bit of a crash course and I'm bouncing into a lot of things and making a lot of mistakes, but it's fun. It's definitely an adrenaline rush at times, doing live TV. There's some embarrassing moments too, some mistakes that you make, but it's been fun. I've enjoyed it."
Photo Credit: Getty / Jared C. Tilton