Dale Earnhardt Jr. took to social media Friday morning and provided an encouraging update on his condition. NASCAR’s most popular driver has been suffering from “concussion-like” symptoms for several weeks.
The 41 year old missed the New Hampshire race after he was evaluated in Charlotte during the week leading up to the event and was not cleared by physicians to race. Alex Bowman was tapped to drive Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevy and finished 26th. Monday, Earnhardt said on his “The Dale Jr. Download” podcast that he was continuing to experience issues with balance and nausea.
The past Wednesday, the Hendrick Motorsports team announced that Earnhardt underwent further evaluation Tuesday at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program. Doctors there did not clear Earnhardt would not be cleared for at least the next two races, Indianapolis and Pocono. Hendrick has tapped veteran driver, and recently retired four-time champion Jeff Gordon to sub for Earnhardt for those two races. The team said Earnhardt will not travel to Indianapolis or Pocono.
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.”
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.
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) July 22, 2016
Gordon retired from his full-time driving career last season. Every one of his 93 victories and 797 starts came during his 23-year career with Hendrick Motorsports, which fields four cars including the No. 88 Chevrolet driven by Earnhardt. Gordon won the first Brickyard 400 in 1994. Overall Gordon has five Brickyard wins the last coming just two years ago.
“I certainly woke up feeling good when I saw Dale Jr.s’ Tweet that he’s seen progress,” Gordon said at Indy Friday morning. “I texted him right away as soon as I saw that. So, that is great news. Great way to start the day. I’m certainly a little overwhelmed over everything that has happened over the last week. But, most of all, I’m proud to be here and help his team out. This is his team. What we want most is to have him healthy and strong for the long term. Today is a great sign of things to come for him. For me, my goal is to come here and give this team the best effort that I can, and give them the best result…hopefully a good one.”