Nascar Icon Dale Earnhardt Jr. Set to Retire After 2017 Season
Nascar is set to lose an icon at the end of the 2017 racing season, with legendary driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. reportedly ready to retire.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 25, 2017
The 42-year old Nascar star broke the news to his #88 Hendrick Motorsports team on Tuesday morning and is scheduled to elaborate on his decision in a press conference later in the day.
Earnhardt Jr. followed in his father’s footsteps – the late, great Dale Earnhardt Sr. – and began an illustrius career in auto racing back in 1999 at the age of 24. Over 600 races and 18 seasons later, it looks like Earnhardt Jr. is prepared to walk away from competing on tracks at the highest level.
It remains unclear at this time if Earnhardt Jr. will race in a lesser capacity in the future like Jeff Gordon has, or if the end of the 2017 Nascar season will signal his exit from auto racing for good.
A Brilliant Run
Earnhardt Jr. had some hefty footsteps to fill before and after his iconic father’s death, and he did so admirably by carving out his own impressive Nascar career. The legendary driver currently boasts a whopping 26 career wins and 13 pole positions, and could potentially add to his impressive numbers before his career officially comes to an end later this year.
A brilliant run at the highest level of auto racing has also netted Earnhardt Jr. 253 top-10 finishes, with wins in prestigious events such as the Daytona 500 (2), as well as becoming the 1999 Busch Series champion and winning the 2000 The Winston and the 2008 Budweiser Shootout.
In addition to his amazing success on numerous tracks during a career that spanned nearly 20 years, Earnhardt Jr. became a pop culture icon in the mainstream media thanks to his country charm and friendly personality. That led to Earnhardt Jr. appearing on several talk shows throughout his career, as well as a cameo appearance in the Will Ferrell comedy, Talladega Nights.
It’s hard to ignore Earnhardt’s youth as he exits the sport he’s loved and been so successful in, as he’s still technically in his prime as a driver at just 42 years of age. With many successful drivers often driving into their 50’s or much later, it’s a mild surprise to see a still competitive Earnhardt Jr. retiring so early.
While no clear reason has been announced, it’s been common knowledge that Earnhardt has been dealing more with injuries in recent years – specifically concussions – and he also may wish to spend more time with his family.
Whatever the reason may be for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s departure, Nascar fans can rest easy, knowing their beloved star leaves behind a brilliant career and an unforgettable personality. He could end up ascending the ranks (29th in Nascars win at the moment) before he truly calls it quits, and perhaps down the road he returns for a brief or extended period of time. Regardless, Nascar fans will appreciate him long after he’s gone and still get what could be a very entertaining 2017 retirement tour.
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