RICHMOND, Va. – NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France took questions from reporters before Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway, and naturally enough, the discussion centered around Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s announcement on Tuesday that he will retire from Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series racing at the end of the season.
“He’s meant a lot to this sport in many ways, on and off the track — not just his popularity, but carrying on the Earnhardt name in such a good way,” France said. “He was always competitive on the track, always raced at a high level, and always worked with NASCAR to make the sport better, just like his father did.”
France went on to note the cyclical nature of the sport and the recent influx of talented 20-somethings who have started to make their mark in NASCAR racing, following the recent exits of veterans Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards.
“It’s really not uncommon to see three, four or five of your top drivers deciding to exit around the same time,” France said. “The good news is the talent pool that is coming is deep. We’re excited about that.
“I’ve said this a long time ago: careers are not going to last as long as they did in previous decades of NASCAR. The demands are high, the opportunity to leave a race car and do something else because of the financial situation they are fortunate enough to be in allows them to pick and choose their careers a little bit differently.”