TALLADEGA, Ala.–Remember the harsh words Dale Earnhardt Jr. had for the racing at Talladega last October?
“I don’t even want to go to Daytona or Talladega next year, but I ain’t got much choice,” Earnhardt said after finishing 20th in a wrecked race car. Some of his other comments about racing at restrictor-plate tracks were even more inflammatory.
Earnhardt said Friday at the 2.66-mile superspeedway that the depth of his criticism had a lot to do with the blow he took during the late crash that wiped out half the field in the fourth race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
In that wreck, Earnhardt suffered his second concussion in six weeks, having sustained the first at Kansas in late August. The driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet missed the next two races, at Charlotte and Kansas, before receiving medical clearance to return to competition.
Knowing he was hurt at Talladega, Earnhardt let his frustration influence his words after the race.
“I hate to blame the concussion, but the feeling that I had physically when I got out of the car, I knew that I had set myself back somehow with the concussion thing,” Earnhardt said. “And so I was really angry with that, because I had spent four weeks to get where I could feel like I was great.
“And then now I’m going to take two steps back and have to do all that again. I was really, really mad that I couldn’t just get through that wreck and not have that happen. I don’t care if I’m in the crash and out of the race, but to get out of the car and feel concussed and feel like, ‘Oh, shoot, man, now I’ve got to go through the process again, and you’re not supposed to have them close together,’ …so you just have all kinds of worry running through your mind.
“It had me really, really angry–and not myself, obviously. So I’ve regretted that. I’ve regretted making those comments, and I think I overreacted and overstated my feelings quite a bit.”