CONCORD, N.C. — An emotional Dale Earhardt Jr. took the podium Tuesday afternoon to officially announce his retirement following 2017.
During the press conference, Earnhardt Jr. said he wanted the opportunity to go out on his own terms.
“Having influence over my exit only became meaningful when it started to seem most unlikely,” Earnhardt said. “As you know, I missed a few races last year and during that time I had to face the realization that my driving career may have already ended without me so much as getting a vote on the table. Of course, in life, we’re not promised a vote, and that’s especially true in racing.”
He also discussed the people who had made the most impact in his life and throughout his career, mentioning his wife, father, mother, brother, the Hendrick Motorsports team and fans. Ultimately, he thanked NASCAR for giving him a place to race: “I’ve never taken that for granted.”
Earnhardt has two Xfinity Series races planned for 2018.
He said he plans to be “involved” in the sport after his retirement and doesn’t plan to detach himself from the racetrack.
Earnhardt has raced for 18 seasons and driven in more than 600 races with members of his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team.
He is a fan favorite and two-time Daytona 500 champion.
Earnhardt, who will turn 43 in October, made his first career Cup Series start on May 30, 1999, at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
His wife, Amy Earnhardt, posted about the driver’s decision Tuesday morning.
— Amy Earnhardt (@AmyEarnhardt) April 25, 2017