One of NASCAR’s biggest stars is hanging up the towel. Dale Earnhardt Jr. will retire following the 2017 competitive season.
The decision comes after the 42-year-old was unable to drive for half the 2016 season due a concussion from an earlier crash. Since then, he has been open about his rehabilitation process and active in campaigning efforts to make NASCAR a safer sport overall.
Earnhardt began his career in 1999, following in the footsteps of his father and NASCAR icon, Dale Earnhardt. Three years into his career, Earnhardt Jr. suffered a major blow when his father tragically died during the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. Later that year, Earnhardt Jr. returned to Daytona International Speedway and won, dedicating the race to his dad during an emotional trip to Victory Lane.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. wed longtime girlfriend Amy Reimann during an intimate New Year’s Eve ceremony last year. It’s currently unclear what Dale plans to do to keep busy during his retirement. But he’ll surely go down in history alongside his father as one of NASCAR’s most important and prolific figures ever.