Dale Earnhardt Jr. signs autographs for fans. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

LONG POND, Pa. --  Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s farewell tour earned him plenty of thanks at Pocono Raceway.

Earnhardt came bounding up the stairs to chants of "Thank you, Dale! Thank you, Dale!" from fans who bought a ticket package that allowed them to attend a Q&A with the retiring driver.

Earnhardt, long NASCAR's most popular driver, swept Pocono in 2015 and was looking for his first win of this season. NASCAR fans went wild and screamed for Junior during the brief session before Sunday's race.

He says he'll still be around at the track next season. But it might be time to check out other interests.  

Earnhardt joked he was trying to get in shape in retirement and started cycling about three months ago with teammate Jimmie Johnson and other NASCAR drivers.

 

 

"I'm like the new guy," he said, laughing. "I'm just trying to catch on if I see anybody go out riding. I joke with Matt (Kenseth) that I'm not real excited when I see him because he's really fast. I know I'm going to miserable when Matt's out there. He likes to jump out front. I'm like, let's go easy. He smiles and we go about 10 miles. I'm keeping up OK. He gets bored with that and keeps going faster and faster and faster."

Earnhardt and his wife Amy took a more leisurely flight to Cleveland to watch the Cavaliers play the Golden State Warriors in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. He was invited by Goodyear, which has a uniform sponsorship deal with the Cavs.

 

 

"We pull for (Steph) Curry because he played at Davidson about 20 minutes from the house, so it's hard not to pull for him," he said. "That whole family is kind of a big deal at Charlotte. I wanted to see them do well. But we were in Cleveland, so we were pulling for Cleveland."

Fans left out of the session peered from behind through a fence to at least listen and catch a fleeting glance of Earnhardt. Kenseth later joined Earnhardt on stage in front of about 250 fans.