Dale Earnhardt Jr. just likes helping people

BRISTOL, TN - AUGUST 17: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Goody's Mixed Fruit Blast Chevrolet, stands by his car during practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 17, 2017 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

BRISTOL, Tenn. – “That’s what I’m talking about, man—that is awesome!” said Dale Earnhardt Jr. upon learning that Bristol Motor Speedway was launching a scholarship in his name.

During a farewell tour marking his exit from the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet at season’s end, Earnhardt has received a houseful of gifts and mementos, but the scholarship—an annual award to a Sullivan County, Tenn., student interested in pursuing a career in the automotive industry—was particularly touching.

“I just like helping people,” Earnhardt said on Thursday after the presentation. “I have been blessed with a lot of things, and I don’t need anything else, and if the track is going to make an effort and maybe even put some money into something, I would rather them do something that is going to make an impact in somebody’s life.

“That’s an awesome reward for me to see somebody benefit, somebody deserving benefit. I enjoy that, and it’s fun to see kind of how the tracks get creative to make an impact in their own communities. That it’s going to… I thought it would be a one-time deal, so it surprises me that it’s going to be annual, but I think the track should be commended on an effort to do something that is going to be long-lasting and impact someone else’s life.”

Earnhardt says he’s eager to pass his good fortune and the stature he earned as a driver in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series along to others.

“I feel like my life has been too good to be true, and I just have had so much given to me and I feel like this obligation to turn it around and do something for someone else,” he said. “And as I’ve gotten older I’ve done more and more of that, and I feel the joy from that. So I love to see that happen more and more and love to be a part of that more and more.

“Maybe I’ll meet some of these people (scholarship recipients) down the road. Like ‘I got this opportunity and I took it here and this is what happened,’ and that will be a great feeling.”