After the massive “Big One” at Talladega last week, Hendrick Motorsports and Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced today that Earnhardt got a concussion from the incident and will not race at Charlotte on 10/13 or Kansas on 10/21. This will be Earnhardt’s second concussion in two months. Jenna Fryer, of the AP, reported that Dale Earnhardt Jr. also suffered a concussion during a hard crash while testing at Kansas Speedway just a few weeks ago in August.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. said MRI was clear but his doctor would not clear him to race this weekend. Earnhardt’s doctor is concerned over headaches that are still bothering Dale Jr. Earnhardt went on to say, “I feel perfectly fine, but I don’t want to keep getting hit in the head.”
The news leaves NASCAR’s most popular driver out of the car for two weeks, leaving his seat to be filled for the next two races. That seat will be filled by Regan Smith who was originally scheduled to drive for Phoenix Racing in the No. 51 car this weekend.
Phoenix Racing was then looking for a driver, at the last possible moment, to replace Smith. That driver will be AJ Allmendinger, a week after talking to James Finch about a possible ride. Finch originally did not want to sign AJ Allmendinger, fearing sponsors would be unwilling to sign with AJ Allmendinger, due to being suspended by NASCAR for failing the drug test earlier this season.
Allmendinger was the only available driver going into this weekend so Finch is giving AJ his chance. Allmendinger is a solid driver and has improved his performance every season since entering the sport.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. will not be at the race Saturday night as he said he feels he would be a distraction to the team. He also went on to say that Regan Smith does not need any coaching and is very good driver.
After hearing news of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s concussion from Sunday, NASCAR will take notice and see what could have been done to prevent the concussion. That is two concussions in two months for one driver. NASCAR has a great track record on improving safety features on the cars. Not only will NASCAR look into new safety measures but, more importantly, is looking at putting a policy in place that would disallow drivers to enter races with concussions.