Notable achievements in the driving career of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hendrick Motorsports announced Tuesday that Earnhardt will be retiring at the end of the season.
1998: Wins the Busch Grand National Series points championship for the first time at the age 24.
2000: Earns his first Winston Cup victory at DirecTV 500 in Fort Worth, Texas. The victory came in just his 12th career Winston Cup start.
2000: Wins his second Busch Series points title.
2001: In the first race held at Daytona International Speedway since his father was killed in a crash on the final lap of the Daytona 500, Earnhardt Jr. wins the Pepsi 400. He jumps to the hood of his car after the race, throws his fists in the air and then hugs 2001 Daytona 500 champion and Dale Earnhardt Inc. teammate Michael Waltrip.
2001: In the first NASCAR event since the 9/11 attacks, Earnhardt wins the Cal Ripken Jr. 400 at Dover, Delaware. He carries a large American flag during his victory lap.
2003: Captures Aaron’s 499 title to win at Talladega Superspeedway for a record fourth straight time.
2004: Earns his first Daytona 500 title exactly six years to the day after his father’s lone Daytona 500 championship. One of his career-high six titles that season.
2004: Wins an October race at Talladega but gets fined $10,000 and is docked 25 points for swearing during an NBC interview after the race. Penalty drops him out of the lead in the points race at the time.
2007: Announces he is moving from Dale Earnhardt Inc. to Hendrick Motorsports, effective in 2008.
2008: Ends a 76-race title drought by winning at Michigan International Speedway when he goes the final 55 laps without stopping for gas.
2012: Ends another long drought at Michigan again when he earns his first Sprint Cup victory since 2008. He had gone 143 races without a title.
2014: Captures his second Daytona 500 title in a race that included a rain delay lasting 6 hours, 22 minutes. Launches a comeback year in which Earnhardt also records season sweep at Pocono Raceway (also launches Twitter account that now has over 2 million followers).
2015: Wins the Coke Zero 400 in another rain-delayed race at Daytona for his 10th career victory on a restrictor-plate track. He would earn his 26th – and most recent – career victory later that year in Phoenix.
2016: Named NASCAR’s most popular driver for a 14th consecutive season despite missing half the year due to concussion-like symptoms. Bill Elliott is the only person to be named the most popular driver more often.
2017: Announces on April 25 that he will retire at the end of the season.