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Official Dale Earnhardt Jr. Retirement Announcement Plus Statement from Brian France, NASCAR Chairman and CEO

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2001 Portrait Of Dale Earnhardt Jr. By Terry Callahan Artist

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Library

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Official Announcement:Dale Jr. to Retire from Cup Series Competition Following 2017 Season

CONCORD, N.C. (April 25, 2017) – After 18 seasons and more than 600 races behind the wheel, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will bring his NASCAR Cup Series driving career to a close at the conclusion of 2017. Today, he shared the news with members of his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team.

The fan favorite and two-time Daytona 500 champion will discuss his decision in a press conference this afternoon. He will be joined by Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick, for whom Earnhardt has driven since 2008. The two first met about the driver’s decision on March 29.

Earnhardt, who will turn 43 in October, made his first career Cup Series start on May 30, 1999, at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Since then, the Kannapolis, North Carolina, native has captured 26 points-paying Cup race wins and been voted by fans as NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver a record 14 consecutive years. He has qualified for the NASCAR playoffs eight times.

Now in the midst of his 18th full-time season at the elite Cup level, Earnhardt made his 600th career series start on March 26 at Fontana, California. He will compete in his final NASCAR Cup Series race on Nov. 19 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Hendrick Motorsports will announce plans for its 2018 team alignment at a later date.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 25, 2017) – “Dale Earnhardt Jr. is among the most recognizable athletes in the world, unequivocally serving as the sport’s most popular driver for more than a decade. His passion for the sport will leave an impact on NASCAR that will be felt over its entire history. Over his 20-plus year career, Dale has proven himself a leader with a deep commitment to so many areas of the sport – all the way to its roots. We’re excited about the next chapter of his NASCAR career and wish him success for the remainder of 2017.”

NASCAR: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Signs Six-year Deal with Budweiser

23 September 1998

NASCAR's Brightest Young Star to Race Five Winston Cup
Events Next Year; Will Drive Budweiser Car Full Time in 2000

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
MOORESVILLE, N.C. - Two renowned names in motorsports are teaming up, and the match promises to be a formidable presence at race tracks around the country into the next century.

Budweiser, the Official Beer of NASCAR, today announced it has signed Dale Earnhardt Jr. to drive for the brand on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit through 2004. Earnhardt Jr., the current NASCAR Busch Series points leader, will drive a Budweiser-sponsored car in five select Winston Cup races in 1999 while racing a full Busch Series schedule. He will move to Winston Cup full time in the year 2000. His 1999 Winston Cup schedule and the number of the car will be announced at a later date.

"This is a great day for Anheuser-Busch and everyone involved in the Budweiser motorsports program," said August A. Busch IV, vice president of marketing, Anheuser-Busch, Inc. "Dale Jr. has distinguished himself in the Busch Series and we believe he is poised to become the next star in Winston Cup racing.

"Anheuser-Busch has had an outstanding relationship with Dale Earnhardt and the Earnhardt family over the years, and we welcome Dale Jr. to the Budweiser team. We're looking forward to a long, successful partnership."

In the 23-year-old Earnhardt Jr., Budweiser has teamed with one of NASCAR's most promising young drivers. In 25 races this year, his first full season on the NASCAR Busch Series, Dale Jr. has six wins, 13 top-5 and 18 top-10 finishes. Prior to Saturday's MBNA Gold 200 at Dover, he held a 140 point lead over second-place Matt Kenseth in the Busch Series standings.

"This whole year has been like one big ride," said Earnhardt Jr. "A year ago I never thought I would be driving a car prepared on this scale and sponsored by one of the most prestigious sponsors in the whole sport. I'm thankful Budweiser has enough confidence in me to get the job done, and I'm going to do my best to make everyone proud."

Budweiser's sponsorship of Dale Earnhardt Jr. extends Anheuser-Busch's long relationship with seven-time Winston Cup Champion Dale Earnhardt and the Earnhardt family. The NASCAR Busch Series was born in 1982 - it was originally called NASCAR Budweiser Late Model Sportsman Series - and the first race was won by Earnhardt. In recent years, Earnhardt has served as a spokesman for Anheuser-Busch and been involved with a variety of promotions and advertising campaigns for the world's largest brewer.

"It's an honor for all of us at Dale Earnhardt, Inc. to partner with Budweiser," said Earnhardt Sr. "I've had a very close relationship with Anheuser-Busch for a number of years and it's an incredible company to be associated with.

"As a parent, you always want the best for your children and I feel like that's what we're doing here for Dale Jr. and his career," Earnhardt said.

"I have a lot to be proud of and Budweiser's support guarantees he'll be starting his Winston Cup career with the best of everything. That makes me happy as his father.

"As a driver, it's one more of these young guns that I have to beat." As part of his deal with Budweiser, Earnhardt Jr. will be featured in an extensive line of point-of-sale materials and licensed merchandise for the "King of Beers." He also will appear in a variety of advertising and promotional campaigns for Budweiser and the brand's status as the Official Beer of NASCAR.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would be in a Winston cup car so soon," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I appreciate everything my dad and Dale Earnhardt, Inc. have done for me to make this happen. That's a good motivator for me to go out and do the best I can. I want to show everyone they've made a good investment."

In addition to being the Official Beer of NASCAR, Budweiser sponsors the annual Bud Shootout and the Winston Cup and Busch Series Bud Pole Awards. The brand supports its NASCAR sponsorship with a full line of racing themed advertising, merchandise and point-of-sale materials.

Brewed by Anheuser-Busch, Inc., Budweiser is the world's best-selling beer.

Editors Note: The images displayed in this article (plus many more) can be viewed in The Racing ImageGalleries and the Visions of Speed Art Gallery.