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Tuesday, 25 April 2017 20:48

Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Retire Following 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Season

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Retire Following 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Season Mike Comer/Getty Images

Dale Jr. will take his final checkered flag at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced during a press conference on Tuesday that he will retire from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at the end of the 2017 season.

According to a release by Hendrick Motorsports earlier in the day, Earnhardt informed members of his No. 88 team earlier in the morning. 

Earnhardt, who turns 43 in October, is in the middle of his 18th Cup Series season.  In over 600 career Cup Series starts, he has 26 career victories, including two Daytona 500 wins.

Earnhardt said he first talked to team owner Rick Hendrick about his decision on March 29th.

“I just wanted the opportunity to go out on my own terms,” Earnhardt said.  “I wanted to honor my commitment to Rick, my sponsors, my team and the fans.”

Earnhardt, who was sidelined for 18 races last season with a concussion, said his injury did have a small impact on his decision to retire.

“Having influence over my decision only became meaningful when it started to seem most unlikely…that my driving career may have already ended without me having so much as a vote at the table.”

Earnhardt did say he was worried about the fallout of his departure as NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver the last 14 years.

“I’m at peace with the decision; I’m very comfortable with it.  I’m more concerned with the fallout of it.”

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.

Earnhardt will add his name to a growing list of top drivers who have left the sport over the past three years, joining Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards.

Hendrick said Earnhardt’s replacement in 2018 has not been decided.

“We’ll take some time to decide what we do there,” Hendrick said.

Two early front-runners for the position could be William Byron and Alex Bowman.  Byron drives for Earnhardt in the Xfinity Series, while Bowman filled in for Earnhardt in 10 races in 2016.

Bryan Nicodemus

My name is Bryan Nicodemus.  I'm from Pittsburgh, PA, and I am currently a sophomore at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania.  I am majoring in Public Relations, and I hope to work in NASCAR someday.  Follow me on Twitter: @mmarkaholic55