Support and admiration poured in from across the racing world Tuesday in the wake of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s announcement that he will retire at the end of the 2017 season, and that praise included some from Loudon, N.H.
“Without question, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is one of the most beloved drivers in the history of NASCAR,” NHMS general manager David McGrath said in a statement. “His unique ability to balance superior driving skills with an easygoing spirit, while tirelessly supporting his countless fans and sponsors, is something that I have always admired about Dale.
“While he will be missed dearly by all of us here at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and his legion of fans in the region, I look forward to his last two races here in 2017 as he tries to capture that elusive championship in his final season.”
Earnhardt Jr.’s battle with concussion symptoms robbed New England NASCAR fans of both of their opportunities to see the sport’s most popular driver race in person last season, but they should get two last opportunities to see Earnhardt, 42, pilot the No. 88 at NHMS this season, barring unforeseen circumstances.
Perhaps those fans will get a chance to see one of Earnhardt’s final victories, although a win at NHMS would qualify as something of an upset. In 33 career races at the 1.058-mile oval, Earnhardt has no wins, eight top-fives and zero poles, with an average finishing position of 15.27.
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