CHICAGO -- On the day that his good friend, Dale Earnhardt Jr., announced he was retiring from racing at the end of this season, Royals manager Ned Yost sat in his office at Guaranteed Rate Field and said Junior was making the right decision."His priorities are in order," said Yost,
CHICAGO -- On the day that his good friend, Dale Earnhardt Jr., announced he was retiring from racing at the end of this season, Royals manager Ned Yost sat in his office at Guaranteed Rate Field and said Junior was making the right decision.
"His priorities are in order," said Yost, who was very close to Dale Sr. as well. "He understands there's more to life than racing. He just got married this winter, has a great wife. He's got his racing team. He needs to enjoy it all.
"Dale Sr. had a lot going for him, too. As much as you hate to see [Junior] not compete, it's smart. He was such an ambassador for racing, the way he interacted with the fans, the way he handled the media, the way he competed his [behind] off. He did it with class."
Yost enjoys hunting in the offseason with Earnhardt Jr. and the rest of the racing team outside Yost's farm in Georgia.
Yost hadn't yet called Earnhardt Jr. on Tuesday.
"I texted him," Yost said. "Today's a busy day for him."
Earnhardt Jr., 42, has had issues with concussions in the past, Yost noted, and that could have weighed into the decision.
"It's the smart decision," Yost said.
Yost knew Earnhardt Jr. as a child and then as a teenager wanting to get into racing like his famous racing father. Yost said Dale Sr. approved of Junior getting into racing, as long as Junior was willing to work on his own cars and engines.
"He wasn't going to let him sleep in every morning," Yost said. "It was going to be work for [Junior]. Dale Sr. let him start in Late Model stocks and I remember Dale Jr. having some success in Late Model stocks. Then Dale [Sr.] said he could start in Busch racing. Well, Dale [Sr.'s] mom didn't think Junior was ready. I was thinking the same thing, that the kid's not ready.
"Well, the kid won the [Busch] championship two years in a row. It was pretty amazing to watch his rise at that point. It's been a great career."
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.