Attendance and television ratings — which have been in decline for the last decade — slipped further. Meanwhile, online polls, while hardly scientific, showed that a good portion of the sport’s fan base said it had no interest in a NASCAR devoid of Earnhardt.
“You are never going to replace a Dale Earnhardt Jr.,” four-time Cup champ and former teammate Jeff Gordon told USA TODAY Sports on Thursday. “While I say that, I never thought we were going to replace a Dale Earnhardt Sr., and we did that in Dale Earnhardt Jr. That was rare. We have to be prepared for that. There is going to come a day where he is not going to be out there, nor will Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.”