Hendrick Motorsports made the huge announcement today that Dale Earnhardt Jr. has made the decision to retire from NASCAR after the 2017 season is over. ESPN shared that Dale has decided to move on, but he will finish out the season and hopefully going out with a bang. His contract expires at the end of this season, and so far, Hendrick Motorsports has not shared who will replace him on the track. This announcement should be coming soon as well.
Just one month ago, Dale Earnhardt Jr. revealed that he had plans to talk to team owner Rick Hendrick about extending his contract, but for some reason, that plan changed. Carl Edwards made a decision not long ago to move on, and at the time, Dale Earnhardt Jr. shared his thoughts about leaving the racing world.
“I think Carl figured out a way to get into a place to make that decision easy. And I can do the same thing when the time comes, and I won’t have any regrets. It’s not going to be a lot of fun to retire, I can imagine. You’ve seen a lot of people, athletes retire in the past. It seems a very difficult statement to make, a very difficult press conference to have. But when I’m ready to do that, I’ll be making that decision knowing it’s the right thing to do.”
Because of this statement, fans are hopeful that Dale Earnhardt Jr. knows that this is the right decision for him. Just last year, Dale suffered concussions in wrecks on June 12 at Michigan and July 2 at Daytona. At first, he thought he was simply dealing with sinus issues, but it turns out that there was more to it. He ended up making the hard decision to sit out the rest of the season to let himself heal. This was probably a smart choice, but now fans wonder if this injury has anything to do with why he is retiring now.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. also owns a team in the Xfinity Series. Racing is in his blood, and he will likely continue to be part of the racing world in some way, even if he isn’t going to be on the track each week. Earnhardt was voted the most popular driver 14 times by NASCAR fans since his racing career began in 1999. He is a third-generation driver, and he made his mark on the XFINITY tour before joining NASCAR. The start of his career was hard with the death of his father in a last-lap crash in the 2001 Daytona 500. After leaving his father’s racing team that his stepmother runs, Dale Earnhardt Jr. started driving for team owner Rick Hendrick and is now in his tenth season driving for them.
Hendrick Motorsports announced the news on Tuesday in a press release, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. hasn’t given his own statements and explained his decision. Everyone is waiting to hear what he has to say about this life changing choice. Earnhardt should be giving a statement to fans at some point.
It sounds like Dale was having a little bit of trouble sleeping last night due to this morning’s big announcement.
He went to Twitter a couple of hours before the announcement and said, “Been up since 4.???? Woke up like????”
This was his last tweet, so hopefully, the next one will explain a bit more to fans about his plans and what made him decide it was time to move on.
Are you shocked to hear that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is retiring? Do you feel like he could have kept driving a few more years? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images]