Danica Patrick says she has gotten numerous concussions during her career

Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR's most popular driver, is returning to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this season after missing half of 2016 with a concussion.

Preparing for this Sunday's season-opening Daytona 500, Earnhardt spoke to the media and broached the topic of retirement.

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.

"To come back this year, win a championship, it would be hard not to hang it up", he said during NASCAR Media Day at Daytona International Speedway Wednesday morning. "I've always wanted to win a championship so badly". Teammate Chase Elliott will start on the pole. But he did allow that hoisting NASCAR's season-ending trophy may just present the ultimate racing exit for the newly married 42-year-old. His best finish in the season-ending championship points is third, back in 2003.

Earnhardt added that this is the past year of his contract with Hendrick Motorsports.

Hulu gives JJ Abrams' mysterious Castle Rock a 10-episode order
That includes all of Stephen King's short stories, novellas, novels and epic novels ( The Dark Tower , The Stand , etc.). Shaw created the show and served as an executive producer/writer; Thomason also served as an executive producer/writer.

Junior has been with Hendrick Motorsports since 2008, and is now in the final year of his contract.

The 14-time defending Cup Series Most Popular Driver previously won the Daytona 500 in 2004 and 2014, but finished a career-worst 36th previous year despite starting the race in the No. 3 position. "I would be out because I love what I do, but I love lots of other things and I also love life and I'm too young to have it be over, so it's a good lesson for a lot of people and a good education".

Earnhardt has suffered some concussions over his career and the one that sidelined him a year ago likely hastened his desire to step away if he was able to do it with a title. He said Wednesday that it's actually a serious thought.

"Hell yeah. I would definitely not want to come back and race anymore if I won the championship, I'd be outta of here", he said.

"There's a few races I'd like to win", he said.

  • Phil Peters