Dale Earnhardt Jr. could miss more races beyond Pocono

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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.”

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.