Fans may love Patrick Dempsey
best as Dr. Derek Shepherd on Grey's Anatomy
but the actor says he's got another passion to pursue before he'll commit to another season on the show.
"The biggest point for me in negotiations is getting time off to come race, so if I don't miss races, I'll probably stay on Grey's Anatomy,
Dempsey told reporters Sunday at the Daytona International Speedway where he was testing his car for an upcoming race.
Last year, Dempsey (who turns 46 on Friday) said the next season of the show would be his last
, but his publicist downplayed those comments, saying that the actor was referring to his contract being up.
Now, it seems, he may have more life on Grey's
"The show's doing really well," he said of the series, which returns for its eighth season this fall. "We were number one on Thursday night, so it continues to get a lot of legs. ABC hasn't had a show this year that has kind of stepped up. We're certainly talking about the future."
He's also thinking ahead when it comes to his racing. The sport is "my real passion," he said. "But I also enjoy the show. It keeps me in town so I can be around my family. So we'll see. Hopefully we can work out a deal."
Dempsey will show off his racing prowess in the Grand-AM Series' Rolex 24 (in which he placed third last year). Fans can catch him in action live on SPEED Jan 28 at 3:30 p.m. ET and Jan. 29 at 9 a.m. ET.