By Matt Bonesteel
Hendrick Motorsports announced Tuesday morning that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will retire from NASCAR at the end of the 2017 season.
The son of legendary driver Dale Earnhardt Sr. has 26 victories at NASCAR’s top level since 2000, his first full-time year in the Cup Series, but never was able to take home the season title. The 42-year-old’s best finish came in 2003, when he finished third in the standings. Nevertheless, Earnhardt has remained one of NASCAR’s most well-liked and bankable stars, winning the fan vote for NASCAR’s most popular driver a record 14 straight years.
Earnhardt suffered concussions after crashes numerous times over his career and missed the second half of the 2016 season with concussion-like symptoms. In March, he announced that he would be donating his brain to head-injury researchers after his death. On March 26, he made his 600th career series start at Fontana in California.
Earnhardt, whose last race will be Nov. 19 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, will discuss his decision at a news conference later Tuesday.