Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s final race was emotional for his fans, his team and for himself.
Teams and fans paid tribute to the 88 before the race began, and even the pit crews for opposing teams lined up to shake Earnhardt’s hand before the race.
The actual race was an uneventful one for Earnhardt, and he finished 25th. After the race, he gave his helmet to team owner Rick Hendrick in exchange for the 88 car.
“I had a lot of fun tonight,” Earnhardt told NBC after the race. “I hated to hit the wall. We lost about 10 spots getting that flat. I had a deal with (team owner Rick Hendrick) where he got my helmet and I got the car. I’m so proud for Martin, what a story. “We’re retiring and Martin wins a championship.
“That’s a storybook. I hope all fans enjoyed the season. I know it wasn’t everything we wanted on the racetrack, but we sure had fun of it. We’re going to miss everybody, but we’ll be back (as an NBC announcer starting next season).”
Earnhardt didn’t win a race in his final season, but it was still a satisfying sendoff for him and his fans.