Let’s all let out a collective sigh of sadness.
The reign of Dale Earnhardt Jr. is coming to an end — within days.
In his 18 seasons as a NASCAR Cup Series driver (2000-2017), Earnhardt, 43, has evolved into an icon in the sport. He announced his retirement in April.
It is said the North Carolina native — who recently revealed on Twitter that his real first name is Ralph — is starting a family with his new wife Amy Reimann, who is pregnant. He also has suffered health problems: The popular driver missed 18 races last season because of a concussion.
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At the Ford EcoBoost 400 on Sunday at the Homestead Miami Speedway, the 14-time NMPA Most Popular Driver will compete in his last race. (For a complete lowdown of all the festivities, see our guide on Miami.com
In honor of his distinguished career, the guys over at gearheads.org created a little GIF that spans Dale Jr.'s entire career — including his insane amount of sponsors and changing personal grooming styles. Fans can literally see Dale Jr. go from fresh-faced rookie to grizzled veteran in 15 seconds.
“While other drivers had more success in terms of championships and wins, Dale Jr. has undoubtedly been the face of NASCAR for nearly two decades,” said Gearheads spokesman Ryan Taylor. “He is by far the most popular driver (and most marketable) and we're definitely sad to see him go. Just from the photos used in the GIF, you can tell he has really enjoyed his career from start to finish. We wish him the best of luck this Sunday in Miami!”
For tickets to Ecoboost, click here.