CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s announcement that he will retire from racing at the end of the season.  Earnhardt is a 14-time winner of NASCAR's most popular driver award. He has 26 career Cup victories, and that includes a pair of wins in the Daytona 500.

Earnhardt is a two-time champion in NASCAR's second-tier series. But the son of the late seven-time champion has never won a Cup title.

Earnhardt turns 43 in October, was married during the offseason and has stated he wants a family.

He's also been plagued by concussions and missed half of last season after suffering yet another one. He's become an advocate for research of sports-related brain injuries.


Fellow drivers are offering tributes to Dale Earnhardt Jr., who announced Tuesday that he plans to retire at the end of the season.

"I'm proud of my great friend @DaleJr for everything he's done for this sport,"tweeted Tony Stewart , who retired at the end of the 2016 season. "I'm even more proud of who he is as a man. Love you friend."

Jeff Gordon issued a statement through Fox Sports, where he works as an analyst. Gordon retired after the 2015 season but filled in as the No. 88 driver last year for part of the season when concussion-like symptoms prevented Earnhardt from racing.

"Dale Jr. has had a huge impact on our sport — and you can see that every week with his legion of fans and Junior Nation," Gordon said. "He has a tremendous sense of the history of NASCAR and, while he shares his father's name, Dale has made a name for himself with his accomplishments in racing. While we will miss Dale on the track next year, he loves this sport, those working in the industry and the fans too much to ever be too far away."

Jimmie Johnson, a seven-time points champion, paid tribute to his Hendrick Motorsports teammate on Twitter , calling him "a hell of a friend and teammate."

Hendrick Motorsports says Dale Earnhardt Jr. will retire at the end of this season.


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