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Featured Earnhardt Jr. to Retire at Season End

Discussion in 'Motorsports' started by Paul Jeffrey, Apr 25, 2017.

  1. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief Staff Premium

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    Dale Earnhardt Jr Retires.jpg
    42-year-old NASCAR icon and 26 time race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. has announced 2017 will be his final season as a professional full time NASCAR driver, bringing to a close an incredible career in the sport.


    "I just wanted the opportunity to go out on my own terms" said Earnhardt. "I wanted to honor my commitment to Rick (Hendrick), to my sponsors, to my team, to the fans".

    "... I made the decision shortly before I talked to Rick. Every driver thinks about retirement and what they think that looks like for them. I wasn't thinking about it too much until the last couple years. Once I realized how delicate things are, it's something I had to start thinking about quite seriously."

    The surprise decision to call time on a professional career lasting more than 602 top level NASCAR starts has come about following a stop / start couple of years for the American driver and son of the legendary Dale Snr. Having been forced to sit out much of 2016 due to concussion, Jr has had time to contemplate his future, and having already passed his fortieth birthday whilst racing in a series that is more than ever attracting young and talented drivers from across America, Earnhardt made the decision early that this would be his final full season in the top flight of American stock car racing.

    "I had a lot to think about over the last several months, and I was not sure I would have the opportunity to compete this season," Earnhardt said. "It's been a blessing and it's been a gift to be at the racetrack. ... About 18 months ago, I was on Twitter complaining about 8:30 [a.m.] practices, and I can't wait to do so now.

    "I just wanted to be able to make that decision myself on retiring and not have it made for me. I feel healthy."

    "At a very young age, all I wanted to do was to be able to make a living driving cars," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I didn't set goals. I didn't dream of winning championships, Daytona 500s or working with one of the best owners in the business. ... I just wanted to be able to do it.

    "I've accomplished way more than I ever dreamed, way more than I ever thought I would accomplish. So I'm good on that front."

    Despite confirming he will step away from the car at the end of the season, 2017 will likely not be the final time the popular driver will be seen on the racetrack. With a team running under the famous Earnhardt name Jnr has confirmed he plans to run at least two Xfinity Series races next season, with the likelihood that the driver may dip his toes in other motorsport disciplines just to keep the compedetive juices flowing in the coming years.

    "My heart loves being in the car. I love driving. I enjoy it as much as I ever have," Earnhardt said Tuesday. "There's a lot about it I really love. It's really emotional. I don't like letting people down, disappointing my boss. We all depend on each other to be there every day.

    "To say I'm not going to be here one day is difficult. Because we all wish we could be here forever. I do have ambition to keep working. I don't want to quit working."

    For a individual who has been the recipient of 14 consecutive NASCAR Sprint Most Popular Driver awards and remains consistently as the top driver when it comes to merchandise sales, the announcement made today has left shockwaves across the sport.

    "Dale Earnhardt Jr. is among the most recognizable athletes in the world, unequivocally serving as the sport's most popular driver for more than a decade," NASCAR chairman Brian France said in a statement. "His passion for the sport will leave an impact on NASCAR that will be felt over its entire history. Over his 20-plus year career, Dale has proven himself a leader with a deep commitment to so many areas of the sport -- all the way to its roots.

    "We're excited about the next chapter of his NASCAR career and wish him success for the remainder of 2017."
    Who will take over one of the prime NASCAR seats next season remains open to debate with only a quarter of the current season gone, however one thing is for sure is that Earnhardt will be greatly missed by fans, teams and drivers alike when the field rolls off the green flag for the first next season. Dale Earnhardt Jnr is a true NASCAR legend and one of the brightest stars of the sport.

    Dale Earnhardt Jr Retires 3.jpg Dale Earnhardt Jr Retires 2.jpg Dale Earnhardt Jr Retires 4.jpg

    Check out the Motorsport Sub Forum here at RaceDepartment for more news and discussions about the world of motorsport. From Formula One to NASCAR, IndyCar, touring cars, rally and GT. RaceDepartment have you covered!

    Are you sad to see Earnhardt leave NASCAR? Do you think he deserved a championship during his stay in the series? Let us know in the comments section below!
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2017
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  2. chargingcar

    chargingcar
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    Such a pity ,
    Awesome guy with such amazing talent , will be missed in nascar .
     
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  3. Andrew Harper

    Andrew Harper
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    Interesting decision as he obviously still loves the sport and can deliver the results.

    Always entertaining in interviews and a class act in the car and out of it :thumbsup:

    I don't follow NASCAR closely enough to know the full story but it will be a shame to see him leave and I wish him all the best for the future and I'm sure we'll see him do the odd race as well :thumbsup:
     
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  4. alexSchmurtz

    alexSchmurtz
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    This is certainly a surprise, he is still pretty young… and he will certainly be missed! I must admit I followed a lot less Nascar lately, mainly because I run out of time; I was much more hooked a few years ago… I hope he will continue to enjoy running his team and maybe enter selected races.
    What I find impressive is that he made a first name for himself! :) Really not evident when you're the son of a legend, and decide to take his footstep and be successful! I wished he would have been even more successful of course, with multiple titles… but he has an impressive pedigree nonetheless! :thumbsup:
     
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  5. Terry Rock

    Terry Rock

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    Dale's got financial security, a pretty new wife and a whole lot of living to do....just like Nico.
    Sometimes you just have to know when to say 'when'.
    Congrats to him...."now go have lots of fun and enjoy it all".
     
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  6. Yapci

    Yapci
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    You can call this doing the right decision...:roflmao:
     
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  7. Rob

    Rob
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    I hope the majority of sim racers out there realize what this man did for our hobby in connection with racing in general. He still races on iRacing and owns a virtual team as many of you know. Not many drivers have that level commitment to the thing we love, plus he was a great man and his dad was maybe the greatest NASCAR racer ever. Scratch that one of the best race car drivers ever.
     
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  8. Lorenzo Bonder

    Lorenzo Bonder
    Wah wah. Premium

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    And I still remember having him race a Formula Renault race quite some time ago in a top split on iRacing and I was like "WHAT!?"...lols

    I'll dearly miss Junior's presence on the track next year when the 18' Season comes up. Simply my favorite driver (yes, I kinda jumped on the bandwagon in 2002)
     
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  9. bsmooth

    bsmooth

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    My two favorite drivers retire, first Carl Edwards, and now Jr, both drivers that were both into sim driving as well.Just not sure how he did it sometimes.Lots of pressure to succeed, not only from himself, but his Dads legacy as well.
    But the crashes and concussions and the time to actually think about it probably turned the tide. Plus now its not just himself he has to think about.
    I like NASCAR way back to its roots and watch it every single weekend.I'm not from the south, but up here in Massachusetts, where NASCAR is rarely even mentioned, or even racing in general, because its not considered a "sport".
    Always watched racing of all sorts, but it was Mark Martin that first pulled me in, a real gentlemen racer, it was others as well including his dad, who initially I didn't care for, but he earned my respect, very similar to Kyle Busch, just great drivers in there own right. Maybe I just wanted to see how Jr compared to his Dad, but thats a mistake a lot of people make. There just not the same person, and they drive a lot different, They each have to be respected for what they did for themselves and the Sport as well.
    I think he would like a championship, but at the same time I have a lot of respect for his decision based on what he thinks is right. I'm sure all his fans will come to this conclusion as well eventually.
    He will be sorely missed.
     
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  10. Tim Lundy

    Tim Lundy

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    Nice guy and all but one of the most overrated drivers in Nascar, maybe all of motorsport IMO. If it weren't for his daddy's name and reputation, he'd be just another driver. Probably best for him to retire as he was just going through the motions anyway. He's got enough dough and a good reputation that he can make some good coin off of that without the added risk of racing. Good luck!
     
  11. MarcG

    MarcG
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    Was lucky enough to see him race in 2012, top bloke and adored by millions, the NASCAR family will be in shock today alright!
     
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  12. Slyfrequency

    Slyfrequency

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    Had such a huge following in NASCAR over the years especially after his old man past away.

    I'll miss the guy and it's a shame he wasn't much of a title contender during his career. Hopefully he will have funds to run a full time team of his own in the Cup series.

    Kyle larson to #88 in the future? hope so he deserves a good ride he's a huge upcoming talent for the sport!
     
  13. @apocapollo

    @apocapollo

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    We've been expecting this in NASCAR-world for a few years now. Dale Jr's been having some serious health complications after taking numerous hard hits through out his career. More concussions than I can remember any other driver having. He's also taken multiple temporary leaves from the 88 to rest from concussions, most notably missing 20 or so races of 2016. Honestly, some of us were scared he wouldn't even be able to return to competition in 2017.

    Jeff Gordon started the trend in 2015 for future hall of famers to announce their surprise retirement. Since then we've had Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards also retire. Gordon has transitioned into a role on the TV broadcasts and Tony Stewart is doing Tony Stewart things (still racing non-nascar and operating has NASCAR team with Gene Haas). Dale Jr. will stick around in the sport for sure, he owns JR Motorsports, an Xfinity operation which won the drivers championship with Chase Elliott in 2015. Junethug might also do some TV stuff, he's already worked in the booth for multiple Xfinity races - and he seems like a good fit.

    Dale Sr.'s death triggered a shockwave of safety reform in NASCAR, things like full-face helmets, hans devices, etc. Similarly, Dale Jr's courage to stand-up and tell the world that he needed a break from the car to recover from concussions, something that was previously unheard of (Pascal Wherlin is still catching flack), has shifted the tone of concussion conversation in NASCAR.

    After Dale Jr. retires, only two active full-time MENCS drivers will have competed with Dale Earnhardt Sr... Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch.
     
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  14. Erwin Greven

    Erwin Greven
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    Yes, Pascal Wehrlein got tons of "fundemental" criticism, even from renowned media.
     
  15. Ole Marius Myrvold

    Ole Marius Myrvold
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    Gordon, Stewart, Edwards, Earnhardt Jr. Soon followed by Kenseth, Harvick, Newman, maybe the older Busch.

    There is a generation gap, and a gap that will lose viewers. Most likely leading to even more knee-jerk moves from NASCAR to make it even more WWE.
     
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  16. aphidgod

    aphidgod
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    I'm not a NASCAR fan at all, but I'm an Earnhardt fan. (Both of them.) He will surely be missed, but I think this is a wise and timely decision. You only get one brain.
     
  17. Rob

    Rob
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    On Friday I'll be visiting a track here in Richmond for qualifying where I saw Dale Sr run from 1992 until his death at Daytona.
    I hope I can get a glimpse of Dale junior, at least maybe I can get close enough to even shake his hand because it's pretty informal these days in NASCAR.
    The track here in a midsized town used to pack in 100,000 people twice a year, just like every other track did. And that's over 30 races a year.
    People like dale earnhardt senior and Darrell Waltrip and mark martin deserve credit for doing that. These guys were true characters and truly authentic. In fact they were the opposite of what is the modern Formula One driver. And sadly, the opposite of what NASCAR has become. I'm afraid that's it.
    It's sad because I do disagree with the post above saying that NASCAR is going in the wrong direction. Like Formula One, I think they've made some positive steps this year and I'm watching again.
    But it's nowhere near the same and neither is Formula One. I hope they both continue to go in the right direction and get back to the greatness they both had at one point. Because before you know it, we're going to lose drivers like Alonso, Raikkonen and Massa.
    To me those kind of guys are the connection, the only connection, that we have to the past greats like Jim Clark. But the corporatization and monopolization of motor sports has really done it harm.

    I've heard Clark's name mentioned more this year than I have ever before, and that can be nothing but good. I just fear we are losing the type of drivers that understand that it used to be very different. Much better, in fact.
    To me, those kind of guys are the connection. The only connection that we have to the past greats like Jim Clark and, of course, Nigel Mansell.
    And the Aussies really have it tough. They get no recognition. I watch Jamie Whincup race and just sit there with my mouth open sometimes.
     
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  18. Azure Flare

    Azure Flare
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    He's had a long career. He wasn't as successful as his father, but he made an impact on NASCAR that soon won't be forgotten.
     
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  19. TrumpetReich

    TrumpetReich
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    I never rooted for him, but I have tremendous respect for the guy. As the years have gone on, it's become more clear that he's done an incredible job managing his career/fame. Being in his position as the son of one of the greats and all, it's been a fine line between riding coattails and "forgetting your heritage". It think he's walked the tightrope perfectly and balanced the two, probably better than anyone ever has. I hope he sticks around the racing community.

    One last thing- the 88 ride going to anyone but Bowman would be the greatest injustice in Nascar history.
     
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  20. @apocapollo

    @apocapollo

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    Well it is Hendrick Motorsports, it wouldn't be the first time ol' Rick has fumbled away a super talented driver. Brad Keselowski was the last to slip away, originally being promised the 5 car in a part-time ride share, until Mark Martin was competitive that season and stayed in the car full time. That's when Roger Penske recruited him.
     
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