Dale Earnhardt Jr has been modern NASCAR's most popular driver so comfortably, he's won the accolade for it 15 times. Now he's retired, along with veteran Matt Kenseth, and Danica Patrick has an impending exit - 2018 is a critical period for NASCAR.
And it's not been lost on the paddock. After a year in which NASCAR had a breakout champion in Martin Truex Jr, dominating in a fashion rarely seen in one of motorsport's closest series, CEO Brian France and president Brent Dewar faced questions in a press conference centred on NASCAR's future at the Homestead finale.
Why? The headline fact was TV figures are on a steep decline. It was later revealed that the Homestead race was down 20% on ratings from 2016 after 4.6 million people watched it. Even more concerning, it was down 36% from the '15 figures.