Dale Earnhardt Jr. retirement press conference

Erica Roy
April 26, 2017

Earnhardt has been plagued by concussion problems in the past few years and missed half of last season because of it. Chevrolet. In 2012, Earnhardt missed two races due to a concussion, but came back two win a combined seven races in 2014-15. And Martha just may get her wish - her great-grandson Jeffrey, who is Dale Jr.'s nephew, is a NASCAR series driver.

An emotional Dale Earhardt Jr. took the podium Tuesday afternoon to officially announce his retirement following 2017.

"Dale Jr. has had a huge impact on our sport - and you can see that every week with his legion of fans and Junior Nation", Gordon said. 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.

The news shocked and saddened drivers throughout the paddock.

A third-generation racer, Earnhardt turns 43 in October, is newly married and has said he wants to start a family. He's become an advocate for research of sports-related brain injuries. "Other than that, I don't have any plans".

The 42-year-old racing world superstar is now in his 18th season behind the wheel, which has seen him make all eight starts in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and finish in the top 10 once.

The news was the latest blow to the stock vehicle series, which lost two other popular drivers in Gordon and Tony Stewart to retirement the past two years.

Earnhardt has been a guest on "60 Minutes", "The Late Show with David Letterman", "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno", "Late Night with Conan O'Brien", "The Today Show", "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart", "Jimmy Kimmel Live!", "Good Morning America", "Live with Regis and Kelly", "Chelsea", "The Soup", "CBS This Morning" and "Larry King Live".

"During my rehabilitation, I was given something that I wasn't accustomed to, and that was time - time to understand what's important to me, time to realize the incredible support system I have", Earnhardt said. Then came the season-ending concussion in 2016 and the rigorous rehab regimen Earnhardt had to follow to get back into a race auto.

Earnhardt, whose 26 Cup victories include two Daytona 500s, will be at RIR on Sunday to compete in the

After a departure from his father's race team - which continued under the leadership of his stepmother, Teresa Earnhardt - Earnhardt's free-agency period in 2007 ended with his choice of Hendrick Motorsports.

2001: In the first race held at Daytona International Speedway since his father was killed in a crash on the final lap of the Daytona 500, Earnhardt Jr. wins the Pepsi 400. Including the win, he has 13 top-five and 18 top-10 finishes at the famous short track.

Earnhardt, whose last race will be November 19 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, will discuss his decision at a news conference later Tuesday. He also said he wanted time to become confident about his health before considering a new contract.

When asked who he would look to carry NASCAR into the future, Junior named both Larson and his teammate Elliott, but also added that "There are probably a dozen guys I am excited about". "I've got a whole other life beyond driving, and I really believe that". "There's a lot about it I really love". I've seen it with my family business or with Rick's. But will the fans still be there without an Earnhardt on the track for the first time since 1975?

"I seem like I've told you guys this so many times so I hate to kind of rehash it over and over but when my dad was doing so well and there were a couple guys coming into the sport and they were sons", Earnhardt said.

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