McFarling Journal 4/26/17: Earnhardt, Hendrick on where NASCAR goes from here
McFarling Journal 4/26/17: Earnhardt, Hendrick on where NASCAR goes from here
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has won 26 Cup Series races. More
11 May, 2017, 07:54
He later left Dale Earnhardt Inc., the company his father had founded, to race for Hendrick Motorsports, a controversial decision that eventually helped his career.
The second concussion came last season, and Earnhardt sat out the final 18 races.
Dale Jr., who will turn 43 in October, made his first career Cup Series start on May 30, 1999, at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Team owner Rick Hendrick said Earnhardt has been more than a winning driver, he became like a son.
And even though it might have been easier to ease into retirement then instead of easing back into a race auto, Earnhardt wanted to come back, not so much because he wanted to win, but because it's so hard to let go of what matters most to him about racing - the relationship with his team. "His unique ability to balance superior driving skills with an easygoing spirit, while tirelessly supporting his countless fans and sponsors, is something that I have always admired about Dale".
The 42-year-old said on Tuesday that his abrupt retirement announcement comes from a desire to depart on his own terms, having suffered from a number of concussions during his career that forced him to miss half of last season.
The 14-time victor of NASCAR's most popular driver award will retire at the end of this season.
"I'm at peace with the decision".
"I'm excited about what I'm seeing out of NASCAR being more proactive to keep drivers safe and err on the side of safety", he said.
The announcement of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s retirement following the 2017 season sent shock waves through the NASCAR community.
Tony Stewart, who retired following the 2016 season, tweeted, "I'm proud of my great friend @DaleJr for everything he's done for this sport".
"I never would assume that he was proud of me when he was alive", Earnhardt said.
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"I'm a better driver and a better person from my time with you guys", he said.
Two early front-runners for the position could be William Byron and Alex Bowman.
"Earnhardt Jr. means a lot to this sport and to his fans". He had delayed contract talks on an extension to drive the No. 88 Chevrolet, and the two-time Daytona 500 victor will now call it quits when the season ends in November. After leading for 116 or 160 laps, Earnhardt Jr. won the race, later saying that his father "was with me tonight".
Earnhardt first endured a concussion in the Fontana race in April 2002 but did not disclose the injury until September while continuing to race. "I'm sure God has many other great plans for him us!"
"I had a lot to think about over the last several months", he added.
Kelley Earnhardt Miller, Earnhardt's sister and one of the owners of JR Motorsports, called Dale's retirement "very sad". Less than 24 hours later, Earnhardt Jr. decided on a time his career would end. "I've got a whole other life beyond driving, and I really believe that".
"It's a little bit softer than what we had a year ago, so it'll give the tires a little more grip and we'll be able to go a little faster with the current aero package that we have".
"He's got flair and is personable with fans".
"We got a lot of people to consider", Hendrick said.
"I wouldn't be a race driver if it weren't for him", Earnhardt Jr said of his father. He was a seven-time champion in the sport's highest level.
FILE - In this February 20, 2016, file photo, Dale Earnhardt Jr looks from the garage before practice at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.
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