Everything Dale Earnhardt, Jr. does is big news to the Junior Nation and the world at large.  Some of it is his last name and some of it is because many of us have watched him grow up in front of very own eyes.  That's why people like me can stand from afar and think isn't it great Junior has found a great wife, has a great life, and now the two are expecting their first child.

"It's really, really exciting," Junior said on his weekly podcast.  "Obviously, this is something I've been looking forward to all my life.  Amy obviously is excited as well. When we got married we had been talking about having kids."

And sounding like a race driver needing a late-season win he added, "Obviously, I'm 43 and we either get after it or we're going to run out of time."

Like it would be for any couple keeping the news under wraps until the time was right, it wasn't easy.  Junior admits he could hardly wait to spill the beans. "I got it, I understood, but it's really hard to keep it a secret. You're so excited you want to share that news especially with like your mother or sister."

However, when came to the gender, even Dale Jr. and Amy were left in the dark until the two received a package containing two pink sneakers and it was posted on Instagram.  "We go to the doctor to get some standard tests run and so forth, "Junior explained.  "Then, they send you an e-mail with a link so you can understand the gender.  We forwarded that to Amy's sister and Amy's sister sent us the shoes.  So, we found out at the same time everybody else did it was going to be a little girl."

As it turns out that was exactly what Dale Jr. was praying for.  "Secretly, I was hoping for a little girl because I feel like I can't screw a girl up. With Amy around I ain't going to mess no girl up, Amy's going to make sure of that.  But I feel like raising a boy, your first child, you could potentially raise a little stinker."

The couple was married last New Year's Eve and now they're expecting their first child next spring.  "Her due date is May 2nd and I'm praying for April 29th," Junior declared.

That was his late father's birthday and it would certainly be great if it worked out that way.

I've always felt it was unfair Junior had to deal with his dad's death in such a public way. When I lost my father I thought a lot about how it was such a deep personal pain and how grateful I was that I didn't get reminded about it on a weekly, if not daily basis, for years afterward.  That, though, is what Junior had to endure and has handled as well as anyone could.

This time, however, Junior will be able to feel the outpouring of love to help him journey through all the moments leading up to what promises to be the happiest day of his life.  It'll feel really good and I'm sure he and Amy will embrace it, feeling the folks wrap around them like a nice warm blanket.

It's something all of us can celebrate.  Dale Jr. is going to be a daddy.