Why is Dale Earnhardt Jr. retiring from NASCAR?
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is retiring after 18 seasons in NASCAR on his own terms following a number of concussions received in racing, including one that sidelined him from the final 18 races of the 2016 season.
NASCAR's most popular driver struggled with his balance and vision for weeks last year, stemming from a crash at Michigan in June that forced Earnhardt to seek medical attention and quit racing under doctors' orders at New Hampshire nearly four weeks later.
Earnhardt told team owner Rick Hendrick his intentions to retire after this season on March 29, and had made the decision himself shortly before that. His contract with Hendrick Motorsports was set to expire after this year, but most had expected the 43-year-old to re-sign and continue racing.
Earnhardt first endured a concussion in the Fontana race in April 2002 but did not disclose the injury until September while continuing to race. Ten years later, Earnhardt sustained two concussions in six weeks, one he self-diagnosed at a tire test in Kansas and another after a big crash at Talladega. Afterward, he voluntarily went to a doctor for an evaluation and had to sit out two Chase races in October because of the injury.
Junior said during an emotional retirement press conference earlier this year he still plans to race two Xfinity Series races in 2018 with the team he owns and still plans to be involved in NASCAR, a sport his father, Dale Earnhardt Sr. needed persuasion to let him join.
Alex Bowman will replace Earnhardt at Hendrick Motorsports in the No. 88 Chevrolet moving forward.
How many NASCAR wins does Dale Earnhardt Jr. have?
Earnhardt made his first career Cup Series start on May 30, 1999, at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Since then, the Kannapolis, North Carolina, native has 26 Cup Series wins, which include four wins at Daytona and six at Talladega, Earnhardt has 24 Xfinity Series wins and back to back titles in the second-tier series (then the Busch Series).
A 14-time most popular driver award recipient, Earnhardt has won the exhibition All-Star Race twice and is a five-time winner of the Daytona 500 qualifying race.