Even though Dale Earnhardt Jr. will no longer run full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, he’s still one of the sport’s most influential figures.

Earnhardt used his clout Wednesday to encourage his 2.37 million Twitter followers not to abandon NASCAR solely because he’s hung up his helmet.

NASCAR has been hemorrhaging star drivers in recent years, with just three of the top-10 most popular drivers from 2014 expected to race full-time in 2018. The mass exodus is the result of an influx of young talent — most notably at Hendrick Motorsports, where Jimmie Johnson’s three new teammates will have an average age of 22 — and Earnhardt said the “badass” newcomers will be worth watching.

People claiming that Earnhardt’s retirement makes them want to stop following the sport highlights just how much he means to NASCAR. What’s more, the 43-year-old’s message to fans is further proof of how much he cares about the sport.

Although Earnhardt will be a commentator on NBC Sports’ broadcasts next season, his urging people to continue watching likely has more to do with his love of racing than his future employer.

Thumbnail photo via NASCAR