Dale Earnhardt Jr. out for Loudon, possibly longer
Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR
By AMANDA VINCENT
According to an announcement from NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team Hendrick Motorsports, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will not drive the No. 88 HMS Chevrolet in Sunday’s New Hampshire 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon because the driver has been experiencing concussion-like symptoms. Alex Bowman will drive the No. 88 in Earnhardt’s absence.
“I wasn’t feeling great the week going into Kentucky (Speedway) and thought it was possibly severe allergies,” Earnhardt said. “I saw a family doctor and was given medication for allergies and a sinus infection. When that didn’t help, I decided to dig a little deeper. Because of my symptoms and my history with concussions, and after my recent wrecks at Michigan (International Speedway) and Daytona (International) Speedway, I reached out and met with the neurological specialist. After further evaluation, they felt it was best for me to sit out.”
Whether or not Earnhardt will miss additional races is uncertain. HMS plans to make a separate announcement next week regarding whether or not Earnhardt will be able to race in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 24.
“I’m disappointed about missing New Hampshire this weekend,” Earnhardt said. “I’m looking forward to treatment with the goal of getting back in the race car when the doctors say I’m ready.”
This isn’t the first time Earnhardt has sidelined himself because of a concussion. He voluntarily underwent testing for possible concussions in 2012 and sat out two races to recover.
“I’m proud of Dale for standing up,” Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick said. “The number one priority is his health, so we’re going to give him all the time he needs. We completely support the decision by the doctor and will be ready to go win races when he’s 100 percent. In the meantime, we have full confidence in Greg (Ives, crew chief) and the team, and we know they’ll do a great job.”
Earnhardt is 13th in the Sprint Cup Series points standings and is still winless, so far, in 2016, 18 races into the season. His season stats include five top-fives and six top-10 finishes. He also has four DNFs (did not finish) in 2016.