FILE - In this July 1, 2016, file photo, Dale Earnhardt Jr. prepares before the start of practice at Daytona International Speedway, in Daytona Beach, Fla. Earnhardt, who missed the final 18 races of last season because of a concussion, has been medically cleared to return next year. Hendrick Motorsports announced Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, that Earnhardt will take part in the season-opening Daytona 500.
Earnhardt was presented as NASCAR's most popular driver during the annual season-ending awards ceremony, which is meant to fete all the playoff drivers and Cup champion Martin Truex Jr. But this week has truly been a send-off for Earnhardt, who was also named Grand Marshal for February's season-opening Daytona 500 -- just one of the many ambassador gigs the superstar is nabbing for the sport he loves so much.
Hendrick Motorsports says Dale Earnhardt Jr. will retire at the end of this season. Earnhardt is a 14-time winner of NASCAR's most popular driver award. He has 26 career Cup victories, and that includes a pair of wins in the Daytona 500. Earnhardt is a two-time champion in NASCAR's second-tier series. But the son of the late seven-time champion has never won a Cup title.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is still driving fast, even though he has been sidelined from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series because of a concussion. Earnhardt was pulled over for speeding while driving to Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday morning before the AAA Texas 500. His fiancee, Amy Reimann, who was in the car with him, posted a picture on Twitter of a police officer writing out a warning for NASCAR's most popular driver. According to her tweet, Earnhardt didn't get ticketed. She didn't say how fast he was going.
Colorful, candid and talented, Earnhardt has been plagued by concussions the last several years and he missed half of last season recovering from the latest head injury. It caused him to delay contract talks on an extension to drive the No. 88 Chevrolet, and the two-time Daytona 500 winner with deep family roots in auto racing appears ready to call it quits.