This week Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced he would retire from his position with Hendrick Motorsports driving the No. 88 Chevrolet SS. It wasn’t immediately clear what inspired Dale to step away from his full-time ride, but the fan-favorite driver made it clear in an hour-long press conference following yesterday’s announcement.
Earnhardt explained that in NASCAR, sometimes you can step away from the sport or have the sport force you to step away. After being sidelined from a good portion of last year’s Sprint Cup Series season with concussion-related injuries, Earnhardt very nearly had the latter happen to him, which played into his decision to retire. During his time off last year, Earnhardt also though about the virtues that meant most to him and decided to put them before racing.
“During my rehab, I was given something else that I wasn’t accustomed to, and that was time,” Earnhardt explained. “Time to understand what’s important to me. Time to realize the incredible support system I have in my wife, my team and my doctors. And time to work like hell to wrestle back some semblance of say-so in this whole matter.”
“I came close to having the sport retire me over the course of last season,” he added. “I was thankful and still am thankful today that I’m able to be healthy and continue to compete.”
You can view Earnhardt Jr.’s full retirement press conference embedded above.