Dale Earnhardt Jr., Nascar’s most popular driver, will retire at the end of the season, his team, Hendrick Motorsports, announced on Tuesday.
Earnhardt, known as Junior, is a son of the Nascar legend Dale Earnhardt Sr., who was killed in the Daytona 500 in 2001. His grandfather Ralph Earnhardt also raced stock cars.
Earnhardt Jr. has won the Most Popular Driver Award 14 consecutive times.
In 18 full seasons in Nascar’s top Cup series, Earnhardt won 26 times, twice in the Daytona 500, in 2004 and 2014. But he never won the series title.
His best finish this year is fifth; he is 24th in the standings.
Earnhardt is 42 years old; his father was killed at 49.
Earnhardt was married on New Year’s Eve to Amy Reimann, and he is returning from a concussion that sidelined him last July. It was his second concussion in four years, and it caused him to miss 18 races.
“When I got my first concussion, in 1998, it was like: ‘Wow. I feel dizzy. Ha ha,’ ” he said in February.
“It’s scary now, knowing everything we know. There’s still a ton to learn. We’re going through such a transition how we talk about concussions, how we treat concussions. It’s very interesting to me. Very educational.”
“I do feel like this is a new chapter, for whatever reason,” Earnhardt said before the new season started this year. “I don’t have a vision for what’s going to happen. I don’t know how to explain it, but it feels like a new me.”
Earnhardt is the fourth high-profile driver to step away from Nascar in the past two years. Jeff Gordon retired after the 2015 season, but he filled in for the injured Earnhardt last year. Tony Stewart retired at the end of last season, and Carl Edwards surprisingly left the sport in January.
An earlier version of this article misstated the timing of an interview in which Dale Earnhardt Jr. spoke about concussions. It was in February, not January.
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