NASCAR's most popular driver has announced he plans to retire after the 2017 season.

It is definitely shocking news, but maybe not so surising after the concussion problems he has has the last few years: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. announced today he plans to reitre after the 2017 season. According to, Hendricks Motorsports released a statement today announcing Dale, Jr.'s plans.

It was a long road back from his concussions last year. I am just speculating here, but my guess is at this point Dale, Jr. is moving on for health reasons. And I don't blame him. From what we have seen from the NFL over the last few years and the toll concussions can take on the brain, getting in that racecar every week is a risky proposition. He just got married, maybe he is thinking about having a family - I bet him living a long and healthy life is at the top of his priority list. And leaving at this point in his career when he is still young and can still compete, this was a brave decision on his part. I can imagine it is not easy to move on from something you love so much and has been such a huge part of your life. But kudos to Junior - he obviously has done some soul searching to determine what is most important for him and his wife. And I bet him losing his dad the way he did also gave him a little perspective as to what is most important.

So, if you have been thinking about going to Watkins Glen for this years race, block off Sunday, August 6th and get your tickets here to see Dale, Jr. get behind the wheel one last time!