No one ever wants to see a driver get hurt, and today, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. announced alongside team owner, Rick Hendrick, and his doctor, Jerry Petty, that he will be sidelined for the next two races due to the lingering effects of a concussion sustained at Kansas Speedway at the end of August.
Let's rewind to August 29 at Kansas Speedway. Dale Jr. was there testing and a right front tire blew going into Turn 1. "I remember everything about that accident and everything after that accident, but I knew I didn't feel - you know your body, and you know how your mind works, and I knew something was just not quite right. But I decided to just try to push through and work through it." By the time the Chase started a month ago, Dale, Jr. was feeling 80 to 90 percent better, and by last week at Talladega, he said he was back to normal. That was, until the last lap crash that had everyone talking. "…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, and I knew that I had sort of regressed and had a bit of a setback…"
This past Wednesday, Junior was still having headaches so he talked to his sister Kelley and they decided that it would be best to go see a neurosurgeon. They met with Dr. Jerry Petty and after running tests, everything was fine. Junior said, "I was really honest with him about how I felt and was honest with him about the whole process from Kansas all the way on." Dr. Petty, after carefully thinking about Dale Jr's case, came up with the decision not to clear Junior to race. "I believe him when he tells me I don’t need to be in the car and I need to take a couple weeks off; that's what I need to do." For fear of being a distraction, Dale Jr. will not be at the track this weekend.
I know, you're all thinking, "Well who's going to fill Junior's place at Charlotte and Kansas?" The answer is Regan Smith. Now you're wondering who will fill Regan's place in the No. 51. That's where the answer might surprise you: A.J. Allmendinger. Please keep in mind, A.J. Allmendinger has been reinstated by NASCAR so he is cleared to race.
We wish Dale Jr. a very speedy recovery and hope to see him back at the track very soon!
Here's the entire news conference from today if you missed it or are interested in watching it: