The Latest: NASCAR CEO calls Earnhardt a proven leader

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The Latest on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s announcement that he will retire from racing at the end of the season (all times local):

4:55 p.m.

NASCAR’s chairman and CEO is praising Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s passion for the sport, saying it will ”leave an impact on NASCAR that will be felt over its entire history.”

After Earnhardt announced Tuesday that he was retiring after the season, Brian France said NASCAR’s most popular driver ”has proven himself a leader with a deep commitment to so many areas of the sport – all the way to its roots.”

France says: ”We’re excited about the next chapter of his NASCAR career and wish him success for the remainder of 2017.”

4:15 p.m.

In the last question at the news conference where he announced his retirement, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was asked what his late father would have said to him upon hearing his decision.

”I’ve always let other people tell me what they think Dad would think in a certain situation,” Earnhardt said. ”I never would assume that he was proud of me when he was alive. I certainly wouldn’t make that mistake after he passed.

”I just never felt like I was worthy of assuming that of him. I always was open to hearing from people that know him really well, what they think he would think. I’ve talked to some people in the past 24 hours that know him pretty well, and they’re pretty confident that he would be very proud.”

Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick also responded.

”I knew your daddy pretty well,” Hendrick said. ”I knew him real well. He would be proud of the man that you are and what you’ve done for so many, all the charities and all the good will that you’ve done. He would be – and is – very, very proud of you.”

Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt, who won seven titles and was known as ”The Intimidator,” was one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history. He was killed in 2001 in a last-lap accident at the Daytona 500.

3:50 p.m.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. ‘s retirement follows those of Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon in the past two years, creating a major void in NASCAR star power.

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