As the 2017 NASCAR schedule is winding down, three races including today’s. It is hard to believe that after the final race of the season Dale Earnhardt Jr is hanging up his fire suite and retiring. I was a Junior fan before I was a NASCAR fan. How does that work you ask? Well I had seen Dale Jr on TV and thought he was cute, so he was my favorite driver, but it wasn’t until after Senior’s death in the 2001 Daytona 500 that I really sat down to watch a race and enjoyed what I was watching. I remember that week while it was yesterday, watching everything I could about it on the news and purchasing the newspapers, books, and magazines. I was in shock that a larger than life person like that was killed during the biggest race of the year. I cried tears of fear when Dale Jr. wrecked early in the next race at Rockingham and tears of happiness when Steve Park, driving one of the cars owned by Dale Sr., won the race. And the tears were really flowing when Dale Earnhardt Jr won the July Daytona race. I was excited when Dale Jr. decided to make the move to Hendrick and even more excited when they moved the 48 and 88 into the same shop, my two favorite drivers coming out of the same shop, they were going to be unstoppable, and for a while they were the it team. But then Dale Jr had that hard wreck last year, at Kentucky none the less, and the retirement gears started turning. It is going to be weird not having a “Dale Earnhardt” racing (and not just because of an injury). But I wish Dale luck and he is going to have a new little baby to keep him busy. And I know this does not been he is leaving racing completely, it’s just a little sad for a long-time Earnhardt fan like myself to see him walking away without ever winning a championship. And I know there will be more tears flowing in a few weeks when they race that final race at Homestead Miami.