Gordon would ‘play hurt’ if he were close to title

Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, stands in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 12, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

CONCORD, N.C.—While Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned praise for his forthright handling of a concussion after Sunday’s race at Talladega, Jeff Gordon, Earnhardt’s teammate at Hendrick Motorsports, said he may not have taken the same path.

Earnhardt sought medical attention for his second concussion in six weeks after failing to do so for the first concussion, sustained Aug. 29 in an accident during testing at Kansas Speedway. Prominent neurologist Dr. Jerry Petty diagnosed the issue this week and opted to hold Earnhardt out at least the next two races, at Charlotte and Kansas.

Earnhardt, who qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup for the second straight season, starts his enforced hiatus 11th in the standings, 51 points behind leader Brad Keselowski.

Realistically, Earnhardt would have been a long shot for the championship. If he were closer to the lead, would he have been as forthcoming with his condition?

Gordon said that, personally, he wouldn’t seek medical attention with the title on the line.

“Honestly, I hate to say this, but no, I wouldn’t,” Gordon admitted. “That’s why I say we all play a part in this. If I have a thought at the championship, there’s two races to go, my head is hurting, and I just came through a wreck, and I am feeling signs of it, but I’m still leading the points, or second in the points, I’m not going to say anything.

“I’m sorry. You know, that’s the competitor in me, and probably many other guys. And, that’s to a fault. That’s not the way it should be. It’s something that most of us, I think, would do. I think that’s what gets a lot of us in trouble.”

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