Earnhardt missed the last half of the 2016 NASCAR season and will be racing for the first time this Sunday since last July.
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. Reigning Formula 1 champion Nico Rosberg stunned the motorsports world at the end of last season when he won his first - and only - title, then announced his immediate retirement. It shows, perhaps, that Earnhardt's ability to win hasn't lost an edge. Such a choice goes against NASCAR's fabric where drivers have long possessed a mentality of racing hurt, and if need be, hide an injury lest officials not allow them to compete.
TSN and RDS's live coverage of the 2017 MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES kicks off Sunday, Feb. 26 with the 59th running of the Great American Race, the DAYTONA 500, live from Daytona International Speedway. His best finish in the season-ending championship points is third, back in 2003.
After crashing at Darlington last December, Earnhardt later said that he knew of at least four concussions he'd suffered in his career-maybe more-and followed his doctor's advice to sit out the rest of the season because of the debilitating concussion symptoms.
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Junior has been with Hendrick Motorsports since 2008, and is now in the final year of his contract.
"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. "I love what I do, but I also love lots of other things, and I also love life, and I'm too young to have it be over". Some felt it was sort of tongue-in-cheek, though.
"I'd definitely consider it because that's the last box I don't have checked, really", he said. "And all you have to do is say "Daytona 500", and if you win that race, you become part of an elite group of drivers".