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January 17, 2022

Dale Jr. To Miss 2 More Races

By Michael Marot/INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Dale Earnhardt Jr. will not race again this month because of concussion-like symptoms and the No. 88 car will be turned over to trusted former teammate Jeff Gordon for the next two weeks.

Hendrick Motorsports announced Earnhardt has not yet been cleared to drive by doctors and will miss the Brickyard 400 as well as the race at Pocono. ¬†NASCAR’s most popular driver has been battling balance issues and nausea since a July 2 crash at Daytona.

Earnhardt pulled himself out of the car in New Hampshire and was replaced by Alex Bowman.  After another medical evaluation Tuesday in Pittsburgh, doctors told Earnhardt to take more time off.

“Our focus is giving Dale all the time he needs to recover,” team owner Rick Hendrick said. “There’s nothing we want more than to see him back in the race car, but we’ll continue to listen to the doctors and follow their lead. What’s best for Dale is what’s best for Hendrick Motorsports and everyone involved with the team. We’re all proud of him and looking forward to having him racing soon.”

While retirement talk for the 41-year-old Earnhardt might be premature, his history of concussions is clearly a concern. He had two in a six-week span in 2012 and missed two races. The latest symptoms surfaced after a mid-June crash at Michigan International Speedway and the wreck at Daytona. Earnhardt said he felt steadily worse, believing it was allergies at first. A neurological specialist later confirmed Earnhardt had sustained a head injury.

“I’ve struggled with my balance over the last four or five days, and I definitely wouldn’t have been able to drive a race car this weekend,” Earnhardt told fans in a recording. “I made the decision I had to make.”

The move comes at a time that Hendrick’s powerhouse team has been out of sync. Its drivers have been shut out of the top three finishing spots in four consecutive races. Hendrick is now turning to Gordon, the four-time NASCAR champion who retired at the end of last season. He’s a five-time winner at the Brickyard, which has struggled with sluggish ticket sales in the lead up to Sunday’s race at a track that is just a short drive away from his childhood home in Pittsboro, Indiana.

Gordon has not competed since retiring after the 2015 season finale.

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