(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Dale Earnhardt Jr. abruptly announced his retirement at the end of the season Tuesday, a decision that will cost NASCAR its most popular driver as the series scrambles to rebuild its fan base.
Colorful, candid and talented, Earnhardt has been plagued by concussions the last several years and he missed half of last season recovering from a head injury. He had delayed contract talks on an extension to drive the No. 88 Chevrolet, and the two-time Daytona 500 winner will call it quits when the season ends in November.
Hendrick Motorsports said Earnhardt informed his team of his decision early Tuesday, though he first discussed retirement with his boss on March 29. Earnhardt and team owner Rick Hendrick scheduled an afternoon news conference to discuss his decision.