The concussion bug has bit Dale Earnhardt Jr. following the huge 25-car crash at Talladega last weekend. The injury will force him to miss the next two races in Charlotte, N.C., on October 13, and Kansas City, Kan., on October 21, according to Bob Pockrass of the Sporting News.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has a concussion from Talladega and won't race at Charlotte or Kansas. Regan Smith will drive car. #nascar— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) October 11, 2012
UPDATE: Thursday, Oct. 11 at 11:10 a.m. ET by Adam Wells
Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he didn't feel not quite right after Kansas wreck but he decided to push through and work through it. #nascar— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) October 11, 2012
Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he had headaches Wednesday and contacted his sister and then went to see Dr. Petty #nascar— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) October 11, 2012
Pockrass also wrote that Earnhardt's relationship with his doctor played a role in his decision to trust the diagnosis and not attempt to race.
Earnhardt said Dr. Petty couldn't clear him to race this weekend...Junior said Dr Petty is a good friend and believes in his determination.— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) October 11, 2012
It really is a good thing that Earnhardt got checked out. Given the nature of concussions, you never know what could have happened to him when he got behind the wheel of a car going 170 miles per hour.
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As Pockrass also reports, Regan Smith will take over for Earnhardt in the No. 88 car for the next two weeks.
This ends any hopes that Earnhardt had of winning the Chase for the Cup. There are only six races left and he will only participate in four of them, assuming he is able to make it back for the October 28 race at Martinsville Speedway.
The odds of Earnhardt winning the Chase were slim already. He was just 51 points behind Brad Keselowski, but there were 10 drivers between Earnhardt and the top spot. It was not an impossible task, just one where a lot of things would have had to fall into place for him.
After the wreck, Earnhardt addressed his concerns about the sport.(h/t Fox Sports)
I don't care what anybody says for the good of the sport, I mean it's good for the here and now and it will get people talking today, but for the long run that is not going to help the sport the way that race ended and the way the racing is. It’s not going to be productive for years to come.
Smith has started 30 races this season, finishing in the top five once—ironically, last week at Talladega—and three top-10 finishes.