Dale Earnhardt Jr’s return to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has been delayed yet again on medical grounds.
The driver of the #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet has missed the last five races after being diagnosed with ‘concussion-like symptoms’ prior to the New Hampshire 301 last month; with Jeff Gordon and Alex Bowman substituting for him.
Earnhardt was denied medical clearance to race by doctors, according to Hendrick Motorsports, who continue to support Dale Jr in his recovery and eagerly await his return when he is healthy:
“We know how hard Dale is working to get back,” team owner Rick Hendrick said in today’s announcement, “He’s following what the doctors are saying, to the letter, and doing exactly what he needs to do. Everyone wants to see him in a race car, but his health is first and foremost. We’re behind him.”
Dale Jr revealed last month that his ‘concussion-like symptoms’ were exacerbated but not caused by a crash at the last race at Michigan in June. Since then, he has struggled with ‘balance/gaze stabilization’ issues, which doctors have said are definitely not problems that can be raced through on the track.
Since being sidelined last month, Dale Jr has worked hard to recover and has been anxious to get back behind the wheel. Filling in for him in the #88 was Alex Bowman – who will return for this weekend’s race at Michigan in place of Dale Jr – and the retired four-time Cup series champion Jeff Gordon; who will race once more in two weeks time at Darlington.
“I don’t know how long it’s going to take. As impatient as I am, I worry about everyone else’s patience as well. But I’m not going to go in the car until the doctors clear me.” Dale Jr said earlier this month, “The doctors won’t let me race. This is not my decision, but it’s the right decision and I trust what my doctors are telling me. When they say I’m good to go I believe them. If they say I’m healthy and I can race I’m going to race.”
As Dale Jr’s recovery continues, the NASCAR Sprint Cup series goes on without him with the final three races before ‘the Chase’. The next on-track action takes place on Friday with practice and qualifying for this Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Alex Bowman will be behind the wheel of the #88 Chevrolet.
Featured image courtesy of NASCAR.com – http://static.nascar.com/content/dam/nascar/articles/2016/8/18/main/Dale-Earnhardt-Jr.jpg/jcr:content/renditions/original