NASCAR

Dale Earnhardt Jr to retire at end of NASCAR season

US motorsport legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Tuesday he will retire from racing at the end of the 2017 NASCAR season.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., pictured on April 22, 2017, will retire after 18 seasons and more than 603 starts
Dale Earnhardt Jr., pictured on April 22, 2017, will retire after 18 seasons and more than 603 starts (AFP)

NEW YORK - US motorsport legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Tuesday he will retire from racing at the end of the 2017 NASCAR season.

Earnhardt Jr., who is currently racing in the NASCAR Monster Cup series, will retire after 18 seasons and more than 603 starts.

The 42-year-old has been named most Most Popular Driver no fewer than 14 times and has compiled 26 victories over a career that began in 1999 at the age of 24.

His most notable victories came in the Daytona 500 in 2004 and 2014, while he won two championships in 1998 and 1999 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

Earnhardt Jr's recent campaigns have been disrupted by injury, with concussions forcing him to miss 18 races in 2016.

In 2017 he has led only eight laps of racing and his best finish was a fifth place in Texas on April 9, leaving him languishing at 24th in the NASCAR standings.

"Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a NASCAR legend, and everyone at IMS offers him best wishes after his retirement as a full-time driver," Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Douglas Boles said.

"His legacy is secure as a champion, a winner, a great ambassador for motorsports and a class act. Dale always has given so much of himself to everyone, especially the fans."

Earnhardt Jr's career was also touched by family tragedy.

In 2001, he finished second in the edition of the Daytona 500 that claimed the life of his father, Dale Earnhardt Sr.

Hall-of-Famer Earnhardt Sr. died from injuries sustained in a three-car collision on the final lap of the race.