Dale Earnhardt Jr. will retire following the 2017 season.
— Hendrick Motorsports (@TeamHendrick) April 25, 2017
The stunning announcement came Tuesday from Hendrick Motorsports. Earnhardt has not yet commented publicly.
Earnhardt is the son of racing legend Dale Earnhardt and has established a legacy of his own driving the iconic No. 88 car.
The 42-year-old Earnhardt did not finish Monday's race at Bristol after crashing on Lap 218.
He was not injured in that wreck, but does have a history of dealing with head injuries. Earnhardt missed 18 races last season dealing with concussion-like symptoms.
"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 Hendrick news release stated.
"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."
Earnhardt's last NASCAR Cup Series race will be Nov. 19 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.