NASCAR stars and fans react to Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s retirement announcement

Fans and fellow racing stars have been NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced in a statement Tuesday that he will be retiring after the 2017 season.

Earnhardt, 42, broke the news to members of his No. 88 Hendrick motorsports team early Tuesday morning and was scheduled share more about his decision in a press conference with owner Rick Hendrick later on Tuesday afternoon.

The son of a NASCAR icon Dale Earnhardt Sr., Earnhardt made his debut at the Cup Series in 1999, and would go on to win 26 Cup Series races -- including two Daytona 500 wins -- and raced more than 600 times in his career.

See Twitter reactions from fans

The blockbuster announcement had friends and fans in the "Junior Nation" reeling, with heartfelt reactions popping up across Twitter and beyond.

"You're a hell of a friend and teammate @DaleJr, I'm really happy for you and @AmyEarnhardt," fellow NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson tweeted.

Many in the NASCAR community echoed Johnson's words as they learned of the looming end of Junior's 20-year racing career.

See more reactions from the NASCAR community

His sister, Kelly Earnhardt, also chimed in early Tuesday to shared her support.

But the driver's wife, Amy Earnhardt, might have had the most touching response of all.