In a bombshell Tuesday morning announcement, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Hendrick Motorsports have announced the two-time Daytona 500 winner and 14-time NASCAR most popular driver will retire following the completion of the 2017 season.
The announcement comes after several concussion-like issues over the past few years for Earnhardt. The 42-year-old missed half of the 2016 season due to a concussion.
Earnhardt, whose contract was up at the end of the season, said earlier this year that he and Rick Hendrick would talk about a contract extension later in the season. While that didn’t appear to come to fruition, Hendrick Motorsports said Earnhardt and Hendrick first met to discuss the driver’s impending retirement late last month.
With over 600 starts in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Earnhardt currently holds 26 race wins. He has also won the XFINITY Series championship twice.
Hendrick Motorsports will announce plans for the No. 88 Chevrolet at a later date.