LOS ANGELES: US motor sports legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. said on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) he will retire from racing at the end of the 2017 NASCAR season.
Earnhardt Jr., who is currently racing in the NASCAR Monster Cup series, will retire after 18 seasons and more than 603 starts.
The 42-year old has been named most Most Popular Driver no fewer than 14 times and has compiled 26 victories over a career that began in 1999 at the age of 24.
His most notable victories came in the Daytona 500 in 2004 and 2014, while he won two championships in 1998 and 1999 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
Earnhardt Jr’.s recent campaigns have been disrupted by injury, with concussions forcing him to miss 18 races in 2016.
In 2017, he led only eight laps of racing and his best finish was a fifth place in Texas on April 9, leaving him languishing at 24th in the NASCAR standings.
Earnhardt Jr.’s career was also touched by family tragedy.
In 2001, he finished second in the edition of the Daytona 500 that claimed the life of his father, Dale Earnhardt Sr.
Hall-of-Famer Earnhardt Sr. died from injuries sustained in a three-car collision on the final lap of the race.
Earnhardt Jr. thanked his father on Tuesday for the role he played in shaping his life and career.
“To my father, Dale Earnhardt, I would not have been a race car driver if it [were]not for him. He
believed in me,” Earnhardt Jr. told a press conference.
“I appreciate my father, everything he put into my career,” he added.
Earnhardt Jr. also paid tribute to the support of his road and pit crew for their support during his career.
“I’m a better driver and a better person from my time with you guys,” he said.
“You’ve helped me mature and grow well beyond the race track,” Earnhardt Jr. added.