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NASCAR Cup: Dale Earnhardt Jr. may be testing soon

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Dale Earnhardt Jr. missed the second half of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, sidelined by a concussion his doctors believe he sustained in a crash at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn in June. Earnhardt has been adamant that he’d be cleared and ready to race at the opening of the 2017 Sprint Cup season at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Recently, he announced expectations of being cleared in time for a significant amount of off-season testing.
“We’re going to go testing this off-season,” Earnhardt said Monday during his “Dirty Mo Radio” podcast. “Obviously, I need to get in a race car. I’d love to get in a car and go run a little bit somewhere, just to shake the rust off and get some confidence. I can do the basics before we ever go to Daytona. We’ll go do that sometime this off-season. We have to squeeze it in there somewhere, because I’m getting married and have my honeymoon, and I have to, certainly, devote proper time to (fiancee) Amy (Reimann). But it’ll be no problem. All signs point to us being in the car for Daytona.”
Car owner Rick Hendrick also is optimistic Earnhardt will be cleared in time to get in some off-season testing before Daytona Speedweeks in February.
“The doctor is going to give him the final clearance; then he’ll be back in the car,” Hendrick said during the Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. “He feels great. Everything is on track. Every step we supposedly needed to go through, we’ve gone through. I don’t see anything holding us back. He sent me a text the other day that he was excited and waiting for Daytona. I think we just have a few more hurdles to clear.”
The NASCAR testing rules were updated last month, allowing a one-day test after a medically-related absence.
“At the discretion of NASCAR, a driver may be permitted a one-day test after an absence involving a medical condition,” the rule book now states. “The associated organization must submit a voucher for the test, along with a documented requirement from the driver’s physician for an on-track evaluation. Medical absence test(s) will be structured in such a way to minimize competitive advantage, while still providing a thorough evaluation of the driver.”
NASCAR Managing Director of Racing Communications Kurt Culbert indicated that getting Earnhardt clearance from NASCAR to test under the aforementioned rule modification shouldn’t be a problem.
“Special circumstances of a situation like that would provide enough reason for us to approve him to get in a car to test,” Culbert said. “It also would not be out of the spirit of the rules in place for the 2017 season.”
Earnhardt is the owner of a Late Model race team, so he also has late models at his disposal for non-NASCAR testing, just to get the feel of being back in a race car.
The 2017 season will be the final year of Earnhardt’s current contract with Hendrick Motorsports, and all indications point to Earnhardt signing at least one more contract extension. Anything beyond that is unclear.
Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (facebook.com/nascarexaminer)

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Posted by on November 23, 2016. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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