After suffering a concussion, Dale Earnhardt Jr. continues to receive treatment and is recovering gracefully. According to the Hendrick Motorsports driver, he has his eyes on bouncing back to the competition as soon as he is cleared by his doctor to participate again. This is the condensed version of Earnhardt’s message to all his fans when his team members visited him at Darlington Raceway, the venue of Bojangles’ Southern 500 on Sunday night. However, online NASCAR sportsbook odds could still be in his favor even as the driver of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series awaits the doctor’s verdict to allow him compete through the remaining part of the 2016 season, HMS officials said.
Earnhardt has undergone several bimonthly re-evaluations and daily rehabilitation processes administered by the Charlotte neurosurgeon, Dr. Jerry Petty, and the medical director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program, Dr. Micky Collins. Following his first diagnosis in mid-July, Earnhardt has missed seven races, with the Darlington race on Sunday marked to be the eight one in a row. However, both doctors have not yet given him the greenlight to compete and Earnhardt said that if he is not cleared, it won’t be a surprise, but his has confidence about his future.
In the 2012 season, Earnhardt suffered similar concussion to force him to rest over two races while testing and eventually wrecking his car at Kansas Speedway. He believed that experiencing the same this season boosts his confidence of returning to the competition very soon. However, he said that the many trips to Dr. Collins gradually dimmed his hopes because of the many processes involved, and since he still feels unfit both physically and personally, he might not return to the track any time soon.
According to Dr. Collins, Earnhardt’s health is improving gradually and even though he has a slim chance of resuming his duties his season, it remains a wait-and-see situation because he has begun to make some good progress, which is exciting. The doctor added that the decision to eject him from racing was necessary to allow them focus on improving his health fully and reduce any stress-related conditions, which usually worsen the concussions if not carefully monitored.
Alex Bowman and Jeff Gordon are the drivers currently behind Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevrolet during his absence, which will continue till the end of the season. Rick Hendrick, the team owner, has already advised the fill-in drivers that immediately the ailing Earnhardt resumes his duties, they will have to step aside, but they need to practice patience. He added that they are still in talks about extending his contract so that he can continue racing in his team, as they wait for Daytona.
Hendrick said that about three weeks have passed since he first visited the driver, but when he revisited him recently, he deduced major improvements in his health to show that he will surely race in his car at Daytona and beyond 2017. Earnhardt has always aimed to race there and thoughts about his return still engulfs his mind. Considering he is only 41-years-old, the Hendrick Motorsports driver expressed that he remains passionate with the desire to enjoy his driving when he returns and acknowledged the support of his team and owner as well. While recovering after the 2012 concussion, Dr. Collins assured him the he would recover and continue winning races, which ensued as predicted, and that is the one of the main things boosting his confidence.