Rick Hendrick retracts statement about Earnhardt’s return
Kansas City, KS, United States (4E Sports) – NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick has retracted his earlier claim that Dale Earnhardt Jr. was cleared to race next weekend at Martinsville, Virginia.
“I didn’t read my emails this morning,” Hendrick said in a midrace news conference Sunday. “I spoke too soon. I do apologize. I’ve been scolded severely. I promise I will keep my mouth shut.”
Before Sunday’s race, Hendrick told ESPN that Earnhardt had been cleared to race. “Dale came through all the tests with flying colors. Everything is great. He can’t wait to get back in the car. We’re exciting to get him back,” he said.
Earnhardt missed the past two races because of concussion he suffered during a testing session crash at Kansas Speedway in August, but he didn’t tell anyone about it at the time.
He eventually decided to see Charlotte neurosurgeon Dr. Jerry Petty after being involved in a 25-car crash on the last lap at Talladega two weeks ago that resulted to more headaches. Petty recommended Earnhardt to sit out the next two races.
Earnhardt will have a closed test at Gresham Motorsports Park, a half-mile oval in Jefferson, Ga., Monday, which will be attended by Petty and a NASCAR consultant.
“Earnhardt then will be evaluated by Dr. Petty in his office on Tuesday,” Hendrick said. “If everything looks good, Dr. Petty will inform NASCAR.”
Hendrick said he had spoken to Petty earlier this weekend, who informed him things were good with Earnhardt’s health.
“I will be shocked if (Earnhardt) is not back in the car (at Martinsville),” Hendrick said. “Everything looks good. He’s had no headaches since Thursday or Friday at Charlotte.”
Regan Smith drove Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevy in races at Charlotte and Kansas.