Earnhardt Retirement Gift Tour Kicks Off at Sonoma

With the 2017 season nearing the halfway mark and Dale Earnhardt Jr. retiring at the end of it, the retirement gifts for NASCAR’s favorite driver will come with greater frequency if past history is any indicator.

In the last two years, a new tradition has formed — in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series — that when a well-known driver begins his final season, he must be showered with gifts and honors from almost every track on the circuit. Even if the driver asks not to be showered with gifts, in the case of Jeff Gordon, or even flat our says he won’t take part in coming to the deadline room week after week to talk about what it’s like to race his last race at *insert track,* as was the case with Tony Stewart, he finally caves in and takes part in a great (Gordon) or small (Stewart) degree.

Having only announced his retirement the day after a wreck resulted in a 38th-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway in April, eight races into the season, Earnhardt had avoided this. That all changed today at Sonoma Raceway.

When he arrived to meet with the media corp in the deadline room, Sonoma Raceway General Manager Steve Page announced that, along with a commemorative giant bottle of red wine, he’d had three service dog puppies, who’d live their lives in Sonoma County, California serving children with disabilities, named after him and wife Amy.

“Yeah, this is really, obviously we all heard the story and I think it’s a great thing that the track did,” Earnhardt said. “Amy is going to love this idea and she is going to be a little sad she wasn’t here to see the dogs today, but it’s nice to know that these types of things are happening and you guys are making a difference in people’s lives. We really appreciate that and obviously, thank the track for their investment to make this happen. It warms my heart. We do love dogs and love making a difference in kids’ lives and this is a twofer. Pretty neat deal. Just thanks a lot. Excited to maybe come back and see how the dogs are doing. Be a lot of fun to do that. We aren’t disappearing we will be back to see you guys again, so thank you.

“I love the idea that we… I can’t really say we, but the race track is going to do something that makes a difference for someone else,” he added. “Our whole idea on finishing up the season is to try to show our appreciation. And sort of express that to our fans and everyone in the industry on making this an incredibly enjoyable ride. This fits right into that. It’s awesome that we are going to be able or they are going to be able to help somebody and help some kids. These dogs are going to have wonderful lives and they are going to enjoy doing that as well. The dogs will enjoy making a difference in someone’s life. That’s pretty cool.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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Tucker White
My name is Tucker White. I'm currently majoring in journalism at the University of Tennessee. I started getting into NASCAR around 1998 and started following the sport full-time in 2001. I live and breathe everything related to NASCAR. I also have a burning passion for all things auto racing. I've been following Formula 1 since 2011 and am slowing getting into IndyCar. I do my best to keep up with the World Endurance Championship. But at the end of the day, NASCAR is my primary beat. Being both a native of Knoxville, Tennessee and a student at UT, I'm naturally a die-hard Tennessee Volunteers fan. Especially when it comes to Tennessee Volunteers football. While I'll never stop being one, it can be the most heart-wrenching thing ever. Since 2005, this team has delivered more than its fair share of heartbreaking moments and inhuman frustration. I've stuck with the Vols from the best of times - 1998 National Champions - to the worst of times - 2005 to present - because I know that it'll make it all so worth it when the mighty Vols finally return to the top of the college football landscape. In the last few years, I started to really get into baseball. This past season, I decided to pledge my sporting allegiance to the Atlanta Braves. It didn't turn out too well as they finished 67-95 and finished fourth in the NL East. I do see great potential with the young roster and they might be a force to be reckoned with in the coming years.

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