Earnhardt Jr. has decided to retire at the end of the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series and fans took to twitter to show their support.
USA TODAY Sports
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., you continue to defy convention, and define yourself.
Born into advantage but forced to earn every opportunity and hone every inherited skill by a demanding father and namesake, you took up the family vocation with the scrutiny that comes as part of the deal. You were Elvis’ boy who took up guitar and knew that comparison was inevitable.
You watched as racing claimed this man that NASCAR knew as a seven-time champion, legend, icon, but that you knew as “Daddy,” and continued forward after his death on the final lap of the Daytona 500 in 2001. You steeled your back as his grieving fanbase clung to you, your name, your promise as your career was just beginning.
You got on with it. You had your fun, you won some races, and despite all the opportunity — all the excuses — to allow this maniacal sport and lifestyle to consume you, you matured and created your own space and identity.
Team co-owner of a successful Xfinity Series team with your sister, Kelley, and Cup team owner Rick Hendrick. Ambassador, sponsorship-generator, social media tastemaker, burgeoning broadcast star. And now at 42, a married man with dreams of a family.
So it’s not with regret for what you will no longer do in a racecar that this day should be remembered.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017, the day Earnhardt announced that this season will be his last, should be the point of looking forward.
He successfully returned from a recurrence of concussions that cost him the final 18 races of the 2016 season, and though his first eight races of this season have been disappointing statistically, he had projected no outward symptoms of medical problems.
Something happened though, something that prompted him to Tweet early this morning that he was having a hard think over a tough decision. Maybe his impact with the wall at Bristol Motor Speedway created a problem, or it was a figurative jolt. Maybe another tough afternoon prodded him to leave at a juncture when Hendrick Motorsports could begin anew next season as his contract expired.
Incredibly willing and able to make his inner thought process and feelings public when so little of his life is seemingly left private, Earnhardt is expected to expound on his reasons this afternoon in a news conference.
It will be fascinating, but it shouldn’t be considered sad by the scores of fans who adore him. Junior continues to define himself. Not many get to do that.
Follow James on Twitter @brantjames
PHOTOS: DALE EARNHARDT JR. THROUGH THE YEARS