Earnhardt Wanted Retirement On His Terms, Not Due To Injury

Justin Greene
April 26, 2017

NASCAR's most popular driver, said on Tuesday that he will retire after the 2017 season, a major loss to a sport already suffering from diminished star power and waning popularity.

Hendrick Motorsports will announce plans for its 2018 team alignment at a later date, but as Hendrick said Tuesday, there will be only one Dale Earnhardt Jr. Now in his 18th full-time season at the Cup level, he made his 600th career series start earlier this year. His first Cup win came as a rookie at Texas Motor Speedway in 2000, and he won the NASCAR All-Star Race that season as well. I like making people happy. On the one hand, I am sad to see Dale Jr. go - I'm a position where I've see the drivers of my youth exit the sport, and now I'm seeing the drivers of my teenage years hit their twilight.

When Earnhardt died on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, the burden fell on a young Earnhardt Jr.to fill a void and help heal the broken hearts of Earnhardt Nation.

Edwards reportedly isn't interested in joining Hendrick Motorsports but we are certain these five drivers would jump at a chance to replace Earnhardt in the No. 88 Chevrolet moving forward.

Two-time Daytona 500 victor Earnhardt, in his 18th full-time season, told reporters, holding back some emotions, the reason was "simple".

"To my father, Dale Earnhardt, I would not have been a racecar driver if not for him believing in me", he said. And Martha just may get her wish - her great-grandson Jeffrey, who is Dale Jr.'s nephew, is a NASCAR series driver.

Tony Stewart tweeted that he's proud of his "great friend" for "everything he's done for this sport".

Fellow drivers are offering tributes to Dale Earnhardt Jr. after he announced his plans to retire.

"I feel healthy. I'm having a really good time driving the cars and enjoying that with my team", he said.

2004: Earnhardt is one of NASCAR's superior restrictor-plate racers, an ability he showcased when he won at Talladega Superspeedway.

"Dale Earnhardt Jr.is among the most recognizable athletes in the world, unequivocally serving as the sport's most popular driver for more than a decade", France said in a statement.

After a departure from his father's race team - which continued under the leadership of his stepmother, Teresa Earnhardt - Earnhardt's free-agency period in 2007 ended with his choice of Hendrick Motorsports.

Earnhardt Jr's recent campaigns have been disrupted by injury, with concussions forcing him to miss 18 races in 2016.

"I do have ambition to work", Earnhardt said. He managed to finish with three top 10s and was the pole-winner at Phoenix.

Earnhardt did go on to say that he would be racing in two Xfinity Series races next year for his team, JR Motorsports, and that he would be open to running more Xfinity races in the future when it benefits the race team. I have got a lot of things I'd love to do.

Added NASCAR chairman Brian France, "His passion for the sport will leave an impact on NASCAR that will be felt over its entire history".

"I'm going to have to figure who I'm going to root for now".

In 2001, he finished second in the edition of the Daytona 500 that claimed the life of his father, Dale Earnhardt Sr. But the son of the late champion has never won a Cup title.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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