During one of the most-watched press conferences in NASCAR history, this beloved driver got emotional while talking about his career in the past-tense and explaining to everyone why he’s choosing right now to end his run as a NASCAR driver.
Taking to the stage alone at first, and later with team owner Rick Hendrick, Dale Earnhardt Jr. opened up about his choice to leave the driver’s seat and gave some interesting revelations into his future projects and how he plans to continue his relationship with NASCAR.
Beginning his statement, Dale Jr. issued an endless number of thanks to all of the people who had made his career enjoyable, those who had supported him, and all of the fans who came out to races and watched at home rooting for him.
Calling the moment “very bittersweet”, he revealed that he has “accomplished way more than [he] ever dreamed…but there’s been some tears.”
“I’m very sad, because I know it’s definitely disappointing for a lot of people to wake up to that news this morning,” He continued to explain, adding the real reason he chose now to retire. “I wanted the opportunity to go out on my own terms.”
Although the choice must have been one of the hardest decisions he’s ever had to make, Dale Jr. made sure he praised his late father for sharing this amazing world with him and said that he is “at peace with the decision [to retire]”.
In response to famed NASCAR reporter, Jeff Gluck, Dale Jr. got deep about the emotions that come with making a decision as big as this, and said that he’s “more concerned with the fallout” of the decision.
“It’s very bittersweet,” He responded. “At the same time this isn’t the end of the road. We’ve got the rest of this year, I’m going to be in Richmond with my foot on the floor going down the front straightaway and this press conference will be a distant memory. So, there’s a lot of racing left that I’m excited about so I’m going to be on a little bit of a roller coaster this week, but I’m expecting it to be business as usual in a few days.”
On top of finishing the 2017 season, Dale Jr. confessed that he’s already committed to competing in two separate races in 2018 with JR Motorsports, so you will definitely see him race again after the Cup Series closes later this year.
Watch the NASCAR live stream of Dale Jr.’s press conference below!