In this March 3, 2017, file photo, Dale Earnhardt Jr. smiles in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup auto race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga. (AP Photo/John Amis, File)
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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 the latest head injury. Earnhardt has won NASCAR's most popular driver award a record 14 times.Jeff Gordon called it quits after the 2015 season, but he was a fill-in last year as Earnhardt recovered.Born and raised in North Carolina, his roots for NASCAR run deep. His Hall of Fame father Dale won seven titles and, known as "The Intimidator," was one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history.
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