So long, Junior. Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR’s favorite son, said good-bye to the sport at the end of the Ford EcoBoost 400. Though Dale Jr. didn’t take the checkered flag, he walks away a winner in the hearts of fans everywhere.
Though Dale Earnhardt Jr., 43, wasn’t racing for the NASCAR Cup Series title on Nov. 19, he’ll leave the Homestead Miami Speedway as a champion. After 19 seasons on the track, the series’ most popular contender made good on the announcement he made at the start of the season. Dale Jr. retired, leaving behind a career that saw him take home 24 wins, 91 Top ten finishes and two Daytona 500 victories. As for Sunday, the winner was Martin Truex, 37. This is Martin’s first Monster Energy NASCAR cup Series championship win. Dale Jr. finished in 25th place for his final stretch on the track.
“I just wanted the opportunity to go out on my own terms,” Dale Jr. said in April, per ESPN, when he revealed his decision to walk away from racing. “I wanted to honor my commitment to Rick [Hendrick, the owner of Dale’s racing team], to my sponsors, to my team, to the fan…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.”
Dale missed 18 races of the 2016 season due to a concussion. Four years earlier, he missed two races after getting two concussions within a six-week period. With his wife, Amy Reimann, 35, expecting their first child in early 2018, Dale Jr. decided to make a touch choice – while he still could make it himself. “I just wanted to be able to make that decision myself on retiring and not have it made for me. I feel healthy.”
However, this won’t be the last time racing fans see Dale behind the wheel. He’s expected to do a few races for his XFINITY Series (the league just below the Monster Energy Cup series) team next season, according to For The Win. However, this is it when it comes to seeing the son of Dale Earnhardt competing at the top level of stock car racing.
While Dale turned the page on this chapter in his life, four other racers looked to write their name in the history book. Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick were the Championship 4 – the four active racers who could win the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship. Kylie, Brad and Kevin had won the NASCAR championship before, and Martin was looking to finally take home his first title.
— Nationwide 88 (@nationwide88) November 19, 2017
HollywoodLifers, are you sad that Dale Jr. is retiring? What was your favorite moment of his career?