NASCAR Cup: Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s recovery continues
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (right) with Jeff Gordon in the garage at Dover International Speedway on Oct 1, 2016 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).
By AMANDA VINCENT
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. was in attendance at Dover (Del.) International Speedway during the Oct. 1-2 Sprint Cup and Xfinity series race weekend. Earnhardt has been sidelined the last couple of months because of a concussion and will miss the remainder of the 2016 season as his recovery continues. While at Dover, he spoke about his recovery and revealed that, recently, that recovery has included driving a racing simulator.
“I have been driving a simulator a little bit,” Earnhardt said on Oct. 1. “That is not the same thing as driving a real race car, but it does challenge me mentally and challenges the issues and the symptoms. My doctor said it would be good practice to use that simulator. I’ve been doing that a little bit. I’m feeling so much better.”
Although he feels better, Earnhardt acknowledged that he’s not yet ready to climb into a real race car.
Earnhardt’s trip to Dover to watch the three Xfinity Series cars he owns (No. 1 driven by Elliott Sadler, No. 7 of Justin Allgaier and No. 88 of Alex Bowman) on Saturday and the No. 88 Sprint Cup entry of which he’s the regular driver (Jeff Gordon drove the car at Dover) on Sunday was part of his recovery process.
“Walking through the garage and signing autographs is tough,” Earnhardt said. “Your balance gets bad. If you’ve got a lot of things happening in your peripheral and stuff, that’s something that is going to challenge it. That’s pretty much it. My eyes got a lot better. I don’t really notice issues with my eyes quite as much anymore, but the balance stuff is still needing some work.”
Earnhardt had been to tracks on NASCAR race weekends twice before since being sidelined, making appearances at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, but he did little more than attend press conferences and didn’t stick around for racing at either track.
“I feel so much better than I did five weeks ago,” Earnhardt said. “I would have never thought about coming to the track five weeks ago. I’m excited.”