Earnhardt wants to win a title then ride into retirement

The head injury issue has mostly focused on contact sports like football and hockey, but NASCAR driver Danica Patrick said it has affected her sport, as well, and it has made drivers think more about the consequences of their career after Dale Earnhardt Jr.

"Hell yeah, man", Earnhardt told assembled media during the Daytona 500 media day at Daytona International Speedway, site of Sunday's season-opening Daytona 500.

NASCAR has begun rolling out an expansive social media plan heading into this weekend's Daytona 500 as the sanctioning body looks to drum up viewership for and engagement around the sports biggest race. It was Earnhardt Jarrett beat to the line that day, and while Earnhardt won his sixth title that year, it would be another five years before he'd claim this race.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver missed the second half of least season recovering from concussion symptoms.

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"I've always wanted to win a championship so badly", Earnhardt said. "When we first started in NASCAR with Robby Gordon in 2009, our models today were conservatively dressed compared to what they had on back then". His best finish in the season-ending championship points is third, back in 2003.

Last year, Junior missed the final 18 races of the season due to a concussion he suffered at MI in June.

Junior has been with Hendrick Motorsports since 2008, and is now in the final year of his contract. "It really depends on a lot of different things". He said Wednesday that it's actually a serious thought. "I said that a little tongue in cheek yesterday (that he would retire), but I'd definitely consider it because that's the last box I don't have checked really". The 42-year-old veteran claimed victory at the rain-shortened Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 in November 2015, but his sole victory of 2016 came in the Xfinity Series Toyota Care 250 last February.

"The shot to win an eighth championship, the shot to win more races, honestly I'm just excited to be here and to get going", Johnson explained.

  • Sidney Guerrero