Today, Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced his decision to retire from Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at the end of the 2017 season.
After 18 years, 26 points-paying victories and more than 600 starts in the NASCAR Cup Series, Dale Jr.’s decision to step aside from racing was announced in a press release from Hendrick Motorsports, the team Earnhardt Jr. has competed for since the 2008 season. Earnhardt Jr. is the third popular driver to announce his decision to retire from full-time NASCAR Cup Series racing after Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, who stepped aside from the racecar in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. began competing in the NASCAR Cup Series in 1999 at the age of 24 for Dale Earnhardt Inc., founded by his father, Dale Earnhardt, a seven-time champion of the sport. Prior to that Earnhardt Jr. won two consecutive championships in 1998 and 1999 in what is currently known as NASCAR XFINITY Series. Over the years, Earnhardt Jr. has won the Daytona 500 twice (2004, 2014) and has been named NASCAR’s most popular driver for a record-setting 14 consecutive years.
After missing the second half of the 2016 NASCAR Cup season due to concussion-related injuries, Earnhardt Jr. returned to full-time competition earlier this year at the 59th Annual running of the Daytona 500. As of this writing, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has not provided the reasons behind his decision to hang up the firesuit at the end of the season. However, a media announcement is scheduled for this afternoon (which will be streamed live on NASCAR.com) where Dale Jr. and Rick Hendrick will discuss this decision in detail.
This announcement confirms that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will step into his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for the last time on November 19 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Image Source: NASCAR.com