Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Monday that his healing process might take a bit longer than first reported.
NASCAR’s most popular driver had missed the last two races suffering from concussion-like symptoms. As he did last week, Earnhardt used the weekly podcast on his website to provide an update on his condition.
“You can race with some ailments,” Earnhardt said. “You can race with a bad wrist — or we’ve seen Denny (Hamlin) and guys race with bad knees. But one of the things you cannot race through is concussion-like symptoms. You know, the balance-deal is a critical part of being able to drive a racecar.”
Earnhardt was evaluated at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program last week. The driver said last week on his “The Dale Jr. Download” podcast that he has been experiencing issues with balance and nausea. He will not travel to Indianapolis or Pocono. Jeff Gordon filled in for Earnhardt at Indy and will do so again this week at Pocono. On his most recent podcast however, Earnhardt seemed to indicate that he might be missing more races than Pocono.
“This process is going to take a little bit longer,” Earnhardt said. “I think that’s what I was trying to convey when I was telling you guys how I was going to take this slow and listen to the advice of my doctors. I’m not going to go against that advice, no matter what. I can’t play around at this age and with my history. I definitely don’t need to get cute.”
A concussion sidelined him for two races in 2012. In June of this year, he crashed during the race at Michigan then at Daytona on July 2. The team announced during the week leading up to the New Hampshire race that driver Alex Bowman would replace him. The following week Hendrick Motorsports named the recently retired Gordon as a fill in for Indy and this week at Pocono.
This past Friday morning the driver Tweeted: “Today is the 1st day in many that I sensed improvement. Seen small gains during my physical therapy as well. Light at the end of the tunnel.”
However, Earnhardt said Monday that he has been doing physical and mental exercises for two-and-a-half hours each day, and said he would provide an update next Monday following another doctor’s visit. His comments leave his status for the road course race at Watkins Glen on August 7.
“I’m going for another evaluation here soon to see what kind of gains we’ve made, get in front of my doctors, let them get a good look at me and let them tell me where they think I’m at,” Earnhardt said Monday.
“And that will help us make the decision on what we’re going to do for Watkins Glen.”