WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — The next step in Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s recovery from recurring concussion-like symptoms took place on Friday afternoon, when the perennial NASCAR Sprint Cup Series fan favorite traveled to Watkins Glen International to address the media on his recovery effort and visit with his team and fellow drivers.
It is believed that Earnhardt Jr.’s symptom recurrence was rooted in a crash that took place on June 12 at Michigan International Speedway.
It was announced earlier this week that Earnhardt Jr. will miss this weekend’s events in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, as well as the action at the Bristol Motor Speedway in two weeks. Although not competing this weekend, Earnhardt Jr. re-entered the environment that will help him gauge where he is in his recovery.
Changes from light to dark areas, the loud noise and fast-paced environment of the NASCAR garage area will help Earnhardt and his team of physicians that are leading the way in his quest to return to the seat of the Nationwide Insurance, Axalta No. 88. While speaking to the media, Earnhardt made it clear that the whispers of a possible retirement from the sport, was not on the table right now.
Earnhardt Jr. related to the media in attendance that his, “intentions are to get back to racing.”
“I’m not ready to stop racing, I’m not ready to quit,” said Earnhardt Jr.
While Earnhardt Jr. performs approximately two to three hours of therapy a day as recommended by neurologists, the timeline for re-evaluations has ranged anywhere from two to three weeks.
Just three days ago Earnhardt Jr. tweeted that he had an evaluation and that both he and his physicians felt very positive about his progress thus far.
No timeline for his return has been spelled out.
“My doctors have a good understanding of my history and what I’ve been through, and with their own personal knowledge that they have throughout their careers to give me a clear understanding of when I’ll be ready to go back and get in a race car,” Earnhardt Jr. said.
Earnhardt Jr. reached out to fans, media, teams and drivers after the press conference on Twitter, as well.
“Was nervous to do it, but I’m glad I came to @WGI today. It was cool to visit with friends. From fans to media, teams, and drivers.”
Jeff Gordon continues to fill in for Earnhardt Jr. this weekend for the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen, NASCAR’s second and final road course race of the season.
Gordon was 18th fastest in the first Sprint Cup practice, behind the wheel of the No. 88 Chevrolet. Sunday will mark his 800th career Cup start.
About the Writer
Steven Ovens is the Northeast Dirt Correspondent for Race Chaser Online and the creator and host of the Turn 5 Live dirt track racing radio show, airing at 7:30 p.m. Eastern every Tuesday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Ovens has spent his lifetime in the sport of dirt track racing, growing up in the garages of the Kerrick and Ovens families. He spent 11 years behind the wheel between go-karts and 4 Cylinder Mini Stocks which brings a unique perspective to his dirt track editorials.
The 29-year-old has a career in the growing health care business world, and is also serving as the full-time announcer and PR Director for both Outlaw Speedway (formerly Black Rock Speedway) in Dundee, N.Y. and Woodhull Raceway in Woodhull, N.Y.
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