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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

Tucker White
Tucker White
I've followed NASCAR for well over 20 years of my life, both as a fan and now as a member of the media. As of 2024, I'm on my ninth season as a traveling NASCAR beat writer. For all its flaws and dumb moments, NASCAR at its best produces some of the best action you'll ever see in the sport of auto racing. Case in point: Kyle Larson's threading the needle pass at Darlington Raceway on May 9, 2021. On used-up tires, racing on a worn surface and an aero package that put his car on the razor's edge of control, Larson demonstrated why he's a generational talent. Those are the stories I want to capture and break down. In addition to NASCAR, I also follow IndyCar and Formula 1. As a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, and a graduate of the University of Tennessee, I'm a diehard Tennessee Volunteers fan (especially in regards to Tennessee football). If covering NASCAR doesn't kill me, down the road, watching Tennessee football will. I'm also a diehard fan of the Atlanta Braves, and I lived long enough to see them win a World Series for the first time since 1995 (when I was just a year old). I've also sworn my fan allegiance to the Nashville Predators, though that's not paid out as much as the Braves. Furthermore, as a massive sports dork, I follow the NFL on a weekly basis. Though it's more out of an obligation than genuine passion (for sports dorks, following the NFL is basically an unwritten rule). Outside of sports, I'm a major cinema buff and a weeb. My favorite film is "Blazing Saddles" and my favorite anime is "Black Lagoon."


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