Concussion sidelines Dale Earnhardt Jr. for two Sprint Cup races
Concord, NC, United States (4E Sports) – Dale Earnhardt Jr. will not compete in the next two Sprint Cup races after being diagnosed with concussion that he suffered during a tire test at Kansas Speedway two months ago.
Earnhardt said something went wrong when he hit the Turn 1 wall during a Goodyear tire test Aug. 29 in Kansas.
“I remember everything about that (Kansas) accident and everything after that accident, but I knew that I didn’t feel …you know your body, and you know how your mind works, and I knew something was just not quite right,” Earnhardt said.
Despite that, Earnhardt decided to continue racing and work through it.
“I felt pretty good after a week or two and definitely 80, 90% by the time the Chase started, and by the time we got to Talladega I felt 100%, felt really good,” he said.
However, his situation turned worse when he was involved in a 25-car crash on the final lap of the Good Sam Road Side Assistance 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Earnhardt sought advice and examination of neurologist Dr. Jerry Petty, who told Earnhardt on Wednesday night that he needed to sit out at least the next two Sprint Cup races.
“And then the accident at the end of that race, I was hit in the left rear quarter panel, and it was sort of an odd kind of a collision where the car spun around really quick and just sort of disoriented me,” he said.
Hendrick Motorsports announced that Regan Smith will be the team’s substitute driver at Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway Saturday and the following week’s race at Kansas Speedway.
With the decision, Earnhardt’s slim chances of winning the Sprint Cup championship are gone.
Earnhardt dropped to 11th in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings, 51 points behind leader Brad Keselowski, after finishing 20th at Talladega as result of being involved in the last-lap wreck.
NASCAR’s vice president of racing operations Steve O’Donnell said NASCAR will continue to evaluate how it monitors possible concussions suffered by its drivers.
But he said some of that evaluation will always have to be left up to the drivers themselves.