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CONCORD, N.C. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. is stepping out from behind the wheel of the No. 88 Chevrolet SS.

But he wants fans to know that he’s not going anywhere.

“We’ll be at the racetrack a little bit next year with our XFINITY stuff and run a couple of races and be able to say hey to everybody when we come back and do that,” Earnhardt reassured JR Nation. “And obviously we’re going to be in the (NBC broadcast) booth. So, we’ll be around.”

Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick has no doubt that Earnhardt will remain involved in the sport for all the reasons the driver mentioned and the simple fact that he loves NASCAR.

“The one thing I know for sure is that Dale is always going to be Dale,” Hendrick said. “He’s still going to be very visible – maybe even more visible after going to TV.”

The key, Earnhardt noted, is that he still wants to “have a purpose in this sport,” to be able to pour his passion into something now that his full-time NASCAR Cup Series career has come to a close. He feels he has found that in broadcasting and his ownership of JR Motorsports.

And, just as importantly, he’s ready to see a fresh face in the No. 88 Chevy.

“It’s time for somebody else to get in this car,” he smiled. “It’s a great opportunity for Alex (Bowman) and I’m excited to see what he can do.”

Ultimately, he just wants JR Nation to know that he’ll still be around.

“I hope all the fans enjoyed this season,” he said. “I know it wasn’t everything we wanted on the racetrack, but we just had fun off of it.

“I’m going to miss everybody, but we’ll be back.”