Tha Sports Junkies 101

Who Will be the New Face of NASCAR?

Who will be NASCAR's new most popular driver? (Dever_Brett) via Fllickr

NASCAR

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, you heard the news that 2017 will be Dale Earnhardt Jr’s final season in NASCAR. With his retirement comes a large question, who will be the face of NASCAR in the new era? Earnhardt has won the Most Popular Driver Award every year since 2003, and has won over the hearts of millions of followers. With his retirement announcement, “Jr Nation” is left with a debacle, who will be their new on-track idol?

There are many candidates for NASCAR’s new cover driver, from veteran Joey Logano to sophomore Chase Elliott. Chase, son of 16-time Most Popular Driver Bill Elliott, is the leader to fill the void left by Jr. Elliott, 21, replaced Jeff Gordon in Hendrick Motorsports’ number 24 Chevrolet. The 2016 Rookie-of-the-Year, Elliott had the most popular diecast car for 2016. Much like Dale, Chase has a legendary last name and a hall-of-fame father to live up to. Elliott won the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship in 2014 while racing for Dale. It can be presumed that many of Earnhardt’s loyal fans will migrate to the 24 team. However, there are a few other drivers to keep a eye on for NASCAR’s new poster child.

NASCAR has undergone a youth movement over the past few seasons. While drivers such as Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, and now Dale Jr retiring, younger talent such as Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, and Erik Jones are moving up the ladder.

No single driver can ever equal the amount of respect or impact that Dale Earnhardt Jr has had on the sport of stock car racing. Whether through his charity work, helping other driver’s careers, or with driver safety, Jr has proven to be an invaluable resource to NASCAR. He is not stepping away from the sport entirely. However, NASCAR fans need to find a new hero in the retirement of Dale Earnhardt Jr.