Concussions and inefficiency not solely ravaged the top of Earnhardt’s profession however compelled him to retire sooner than meant. Not even probably the most common drivers in fashionable racing historical past was protected from illnesses and the struggles that adopted him on and off the observe.
Earnhardt’s final years took a toll on him and his household. His older sister, Kelley, didn’t mince phrases when requested to explain her brother’s last chapter as a full-time driver.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s profession didn’t intend how anybody wished
In hindsight, the 2016 Daytona 500 ought to have been a nasty signal for what was to come back in Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s profession.
A two-time Daytona winner, Earnhardt positioned thirty sixth within the 2016 occasion. Earnhardt rebounded and completed second at Atlanta Motor Speedway the next week.
Nevertheless, Earnhardt sat out the second half of the 2016 season with concussion-like signs. It’s believed Earnhardt was concussed after a June 12 crash at Michigan Worldwide Speedway. Earnhardt positioned thirty ninth that day.
Medical doctors cleared Earnhardt to race in 2017, however his season started with a Thirty seventh-place end on the Daytona 500. Earnhardt had just one top-10 end in his first 11 races in 2017.
Kelley Earnhardt didn’t mince phrases close to the top
Though Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn’t miss a race within the 2017 Cup Sequence marketing campaign, it was clear that his finest years have been behind him.
Earnhardt by no means positioned larger than fifth in a race that yr, and that got here within the season’s seventh occasion. In April 2017, Earnhardt introduced he would not be a full-time Cup Sequence driver when the season ended.
Earnhrdt Jr. wasn’t the one one pissed off with how his profession was ending. His older sister, Kelley, instructed NBC Sports activities in September 2017 that her brother’s struggles on the racetrack have been “pretty miserable.”
“It looks like it’s just a few luck issues that occur right here and there, and issues which can be past his management. It’s definitely not the season of how I do know that he would need this final season to be. It’s not loads to put in writing house about currently, so it’s been fairly miserable and disappointing.’’
Kelley instructed NBC that she continued texting her brother and stored telling him to “hold his head up.”
“He doesn’t like something mushy, so I strive to not get too mushy,” Kelley stated. “I attempt to simply hold it simply on the floor and never get too deep and let him know that we’re occupied with him.”
There was no storybook ending for Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Generally, the sports activities gods have a means of shining favorably on ageing athletes of their last performances.
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter hit a walk-off single in his last house recreation in September 2014. Three days later, Jeter recorded a success in his final at-bat.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. had no such luck when he obtained behind the wheel at Homestead, Fla., in November 2017. Earnhardt positioned twenty fifth in a race that Martin Truex Jr. gained.
Earnhardt has raced in a single Xfinity Sequence in every of the final three seasons. His days as a full-time driver, nonetheless, stay over.