The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ most popular driver will miss the remainder of the season as he continues to recover from concussion-like symptoms. A release issued by Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Hendrick Motorsports team stated that he has not yet been medically cleared to return to the racecar.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Miss Remainder of 2016 Sprint Cup Season
Earnhardt Jr. has been regularly evaluated at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program. Through this difficult time, he has still been engaging with his fans by sharing the progress of his recovery online. Through videos posted on Instagram, fans could get a glimpse of what is involved in recovering from a concussion and how to eventually heal from the lingering symptoms. Jr. was optimistic of a quick return but unfortunately the healing process is taking longer than he had hoped.
“I wish I could return to the No. 88 team this season,” Earnhardt said. “To say I’m disappointed doesn’t begin to describe how I feel, but I know this is the right thing for my long-term health and career. I’m 100 percent focused on my recovery, and I will continue to follow everything the doctors tell me. They’re seeing good progress in my test results, and I’m feeling that progress physically. I plan to be healthy and ready to compete at Daytona in February. I’m working toward that.
Advocate for Safe Driving
Back in 2012, Earnhardt Jr. missed two races due to a concussion from a crash in a testing session at Kansas Speedway. The Hendrick driver is making a very bold statement to the entire racing community that health and safety comes first. He is becoming an advocate for safe driving and making smart, health-conscious decisions when it comes to getting behind the wheel. There is still a limited amount of examples of drivers suffering concussions and concussion-like symptoms in racing. Earnhardt Jr. should be applauded for making it clear that he will not race until the doctors are confident he can handle it, free of headaches, dizziness and vision problems.
In early August, doctors had narrowed down the result of the concussion to a crash in the June race at Michigan. Since then, Jeff Gordon and Alex Bowman have done a masterful job filling in behind the wheel of the 88 car (despite not always getting the finish they deserved). The duo will continue to share the seat for the duration of the season. The Hendrick press release shared the details of which driver will fill in for the remaining races.
Sept. 4, Darlington Raceway – Jeff Gordon*
Sept. 10, Richmond International Raceway – Jeff Gordon
Sept. 18, Chicagoland Speedway – Alex Bowman
Sept. 25, New Hampshire Motor Speedway – Alex Bowman
Oct. 2, Dover International Speedway – Jeff Gordon
Oct. 8, Charlotte Motor Speedway – Alex Bowman
Oct. 16, Kansas Speedway – Alex Bowman
Oct. 23, Talladega Superspeedway – Alex Bowman
Oct. 30, Martinsville Speedway – Jeff Gordon
Nov. 6, Texas Motor Speedway – Alex Bowman
Nov. 13, Phoenix International Raceway – Alex Bowman
Nov. 20, Homestead-Miami Speedway – Alex Bowman