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Famed NASCAR driver enjoys busy 2017, looks ahead to future

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It's the end of an era in racing.

For the first time in decades, NASCAR won't have an Earnhardt behind the wheel.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. enjoyed quite a year.

Earlier in 2017, the NASCAR superstar announced his retirement, which was followed by the news that his wife, Amy, was expecting a child.

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It also wasn't an easy year for Junior on the race track.

He returned to racing after suffering a concussion, and Channel 9 interviewed the fan-favorite almost exactly a year ago.

"When I've tried to press myself to make a decision, it's just so hard,” Earnhardt said. “I feel young. I feel, I don't feel 42."

Earnhardt's announced his retirement came months later.

"During that time, I had to face the realization that my driving career may have already ended with me as so much as getting a vote at the table,” Earnhardt said.

The decision rocked his fans, who had voted him the most popular driver for 15 consecutive years.

Many loved his father, but grew to admire Dale Junior.

The year brought more surprises.

Dale and Amy Earnhardt, who married last New Year’s Eve, announced they're expecting a child by posting a pair of pink Converse shoes on Instagram.

"The due date is May the 2nd and I'm praying for April 29th,” Earnhardt said. “That's my dad's birthday. That would be super cool."

Both Junior and Amy are getting their hands dirty, renovating a historic home in Key West, Florida.

But Earnhardt won't stay far from the track. He will be on TV, in the booth and talking to drivers during NASCAR coverage.

Earnhardt will also be grand marshal in the Daytona 500.

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