It has been a rough couple of months for NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. After being caught up in a wreck at Michigan International Speedway in June, it was discovered that Dale Jr had suffered a concussion.
It is not the first time that Dale Jr has had to deal with concussion-like symptoms, but this time around the symptoms were more severe. Dale Jr has had lingering issues with his balance, focusing or gaze stability, and anxiety.
Those lingering issues have kept Junior out of his number 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for the past five races: New Hampshire, Indianapolis, Pocono, Watkins Glen, and Bristol. Junior is continuing to have issues related to his concussion and will miss at least two more races after doctors failed to clear Junior to race. Junior is being treated at the Sports Medicine Concussion Program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
This week at Michigan, Alex Bowman will again take over the driving duties and next week at Darlington, Jeff Gordon will return as the substitute driver. After retiring last year, Gordon has told his former car owner and Dale Jr’s current car owner Rick Hendrick that he would be available for as long as he was needed. Gordon is out of the car this week duo to a prior commitment.
While Earnhardt could obtain a medical waiver from NASCAR and be allowed to participate in the “race for the chase” if he won a race and made it into the top 30 in points, it is unlikely that Junior will be able to be a part of the championship battle this season. There are only three more races before the field for the chase will be set with the top 16 drivers, and Junior will miss at least two of them.
Junior has been very forthcoming via social media with his recovery and what his doctors have prescribed to not only help him get better but to strengthen his brain to reduce the chances of him getting another concussion.
An organ donor, Junior has made arrangements to have his brain donated for brain trauma research when he is no longer in need of the organ.
In 2014 NASCAR mandated that all drivers have a base line brain scan so that in case of a concussion or other brain trauma, medical personnel will have a normal brain scan for comparison.
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