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Dale Earnhardt Jr. to retire from NASCAR at end of 2017 season

Dale Earnhardt Jr. to retire from NASCAR at end of 2017 season

This means the league will lose its biggest star.

"I was pretty sick at one point, and I didn't think I was going to get to race again", Earnhardt said of his concussion previous year. "Of course, in life, we're not promised a vote, and that's especially true in racing". Earnhardt said that "without a shadow of a doubt", the toughest part of his decision was informing Hendrick.

Earnhardt has suffered concussions the past few years and missed half of last season recovering from the latest of them. He had delayed contract talks on an extension to drive the No. 88 Chevrolet and the two-time Daytona 500 victor will now call it quits when the season ends in November.

"The Earnhardt name is irreplaceable in NASCAR", said Todd McFall, a Wake Forest sports economist.

Notable achievements in the driving career of Dale Earnhardt Jr.

He said the ability of the new batch of drivers to connect with fans on social media was critical in an age when fans expect to have a more personal connection to their favorite professional athletes.

NASCAR driver Elliott Sadler said Tuesday in Birmingham that Dale Earnhardt Jr. was thinking of his fans when he made his retirement announcement earlier in the day. Being the son of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Sr. made his decision to go into racing hard, as he knew he would always be "growing up in that man's shadow".

Earnhardt turns 43 in October, was married during the offseason and has stated he wants a family. The concussions left him with nausea, double vision, anxiety and other symptoms that he has discussed in great detail.

"I think it might be a smart decision for him because he's had a lot of concussions and should move on", said Butch Knapp, of Concord.

His retirement is just the latest in a series of veterans stepping away from the sport after long and popular careers.

"I don't see myself really detaching from NASCAR", Earnhardt said. Carl Edwards, another , driver, stepped away from NASCAR at the end of the 2016 season.

Earnhardt, who has won the most popular driver award 14 times but has never won a Cup title, has struggled this season, with only one top-five finish so far.

Sadler won the Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega previous year and has made 31 starts at the track between the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup and NASCAR Xfinity Series.

Dale Jr. was joined by Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick, for whom Earnhardt has driven for since 2008. "Dad's Happy!" Earnhardt tweeted, honoring his father, who died after an accident on the last lap of the Daytona 500 in 2001.

Through eight races this season, Earnhardt is 24th in the series standings.

On Monday, just minutes after a mechanical failure caused him to crash out of the Food City 500, a fan tried to take a selfie with Earnhardt as he walked to the infield care center for a medical evaluation. It would be the only time he'd take the checkered flag in the race.

"I can understand why he's doing it", said Chris Laliberte, of Pembroke.

"On a personal and professional level, I'm really going to miss covering Earnhardt. It looks pretty awesome".

Though Earnhardt will no longer be on the track as a competitor, he will have an unrivaled presence on the pavement, in a larger sense, for years to come. His contract with Hendrick Motorsports was set to expire after this year, but most had expected the 42-year-old to re-sign and continue racing.

"I just wanted to opportunity to go out on my own terms", he said.

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