Fans aren’t the only members of the NASCAR community who are sad that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will hang up his helmet after Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400.
Earnhardt received a standing ovation from his fellow Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competitors during the drivers meeting at Homestead-Miami Speedway ahead of the 43-year-old’s final race, according to the Associated Press.
The gesture came after NASCAR played a video honoring Earnhardt, in which celebrities such as Mark Wahlberg, Adam Sandler, Jimmy Kimmel, Brad Paisley, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal explained what they most like about the second-generation racer.
Even before the meeting, many of NASCAR’s biggest names began honoring Earnhardt with heartfelt messages on social media.
Congratulations Dale on an amazing career. No one will ever forget you. Ever. I know I will always be grateful for your help getting me get into nascar. You help so many do that and as if your results weren’t enough to leave a legacy, that will be a part of it too. I hope most of all today, that you have fun in the car!!!
Prior to the video presentation, NASCAR chairman Brian France similarly honored the 14-time most popular driver.
“He has been an obviously big contribution on and off the track for a long time,” France said, via the Press. “While we’re going to miss him for obvious reasons, he’s not going to be that far away being an owner and working with NBC. He’s going to be glued to the sport, and that’s a good thing for us.”
Earnhardt also will be honored just before the start of the championship-deciding race, as he’s been scheduled to lead an honorary pace lap.
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