Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to retire after 2017 season

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to retire after 2017 season.
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Dale Earnhardt, Jr. announced on Tuesday he will retire from competitive racing after the 2017 season.

Earnhardt, 42, has won 26 times on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series circuit during his career and has been named the sport's most popular driver in each of the last 14 years.

"After 18 seasons and more than 600 races behind the wheel, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will bring his NASCAR Cup Series driving career to a close at the conclusion of 2017. Today, he shared the news with members of his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team.

The fan favorite and two-time Daytona 500 champion will discuss his decision in a press conference this afternoon. He will be joined by Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick, for whom Earnhardt has driven since 2008. The two first met about the driver’s decision on March 29," a release from Hendrick Motorsports said.

Earnhardt was cleared to return to racing this season in December after missing the last 18 races of the 2016 campaign because of concussion issues.

In his career, Earnhardt has won the Daytona 500 twice (2004, 2014), but his last series victory came in 2015 at the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 in Phoenix.

Earnhardt has one top-10 finish this season and is 24th in the current standings.

- Scooby Axson