In light of Dale Earnhardt Jr's recent concussions, might it be time for NASCAR to look into sidelining drivers with head injuries?
Two events have taken the NASCAR world by storm over the last five days.
On Thursday afternoon, four days after getting caught up in a grizzly 20-car pileup on the final lap of the October 7 Amp Energy 500 at Talladega, NASCAR's most popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced he would be sidelined for the next two races due to a pair of concussions suffered just five weeks apart.
Honestly, I hate to say this, but no, I wouldn't [seek medical attention]. That's why I say we all play a part in this. If I have a thought at the championship, there's two races to go, my head is hurting, and I just came through a wreck, and I am feeling signs of it, but I'm still leading the points, or second in the points, I'm not going to say anything.
I'm sorry. You know, that's the competitor in me, and probably many other guys. And, that's to a fault. That's not the way it should be. It's something that most of us, I think, would do. I think that's what gets a lot of us in trouble.
These two instances have the NASCAR world buzzing about driver safety, especially in the midst of player safety concerns regarding concussions that currently plague other major sports, such as the NFL.
So the following question has been raised: Since NASCAR drivers have the ability to hide potentially catastrophic injuries while participating in a sport in which racers compete at speeds upwards of 200 mph, should the sanctioning body do more to try to sideline drivers who have recently suffered concussions?
Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick don't think so.
"In my opinion it kind of polices itself," Bowyer told the media on Tuesday's NASCAR Teleconference. "I think it worked out perfect. You know, I mean, we had a problem with a driver, he sought the attention that he needed to to understand what was going on and is getting the right help and taking the right time off. It's as simple as that."
"First thing you have to do with yourself is realize there's a problem," Harvick adds. "In order to do that, you have to go to the doctor and you have to report that to NASCAR. In the end, it's ultimately our own responsibility to take those actions."
Harvick also added that team owner Richard Childress has already taken steps to help prevent his drivers from getting behind the wheel without being ready.
"I know for us at RCR, we already have baseline scans we put in place a couple years ago," Harvick continues. "It's just a matter of what the team does, how it's supposed to be structured, how far you want to take it."
Still, with Gordon's remarks ringing in the ears of NASCAR Nation, one can't help but speculate how bad this situation could have been had Earnhardt not come forward and admitted that there was a problem.
Should NASCAR take a more proactive approach in dealing with drivers who've sustained head injuries?
Regardless, Earnhardt's predicament played out about as well as it could have, and in the end that's really all that matters...for now.
"Whether they need to do something or not, at the end of the day, the appropriate actions were taken and they're seeking the right attention that he deserves," Bowyer concludes.
Indeed, they were. Unfortunately, in a sport as vicious as NASCAR can sometimes be, this type of situation is likely to occur again.
When that happens, hopefully the driver in question won't be afraid to come forward for his own good as well as that of the sport.