Earnhardt the example of putting health first

After the Sprint Cup teams raced without him at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, it was clear that the presence of NASCAR's most popular driver was missed and unclear what the future will hold for the driver individually and the sport in general. I saw a family doctor and was given medication for allergies and a sinus infection. I got really loose, got up the race track and got into him. "And just around, I guess it was Daytona, if there was something major wrong, I think they would have seen it already".

Granted, playoff hopes shouldn't trump health issues - especially concussions, something that could cause long-term damage - but this very small step has given flexibility in a system that previously had none.

"I'm very hopeful. He's very hopeful and I think the doctors are going to error on the side of being sure. We want to change the culture of the sport".

After opening up on the podcast by praising and thanking subsitute driver Alex Bowman for his efforts in Sunday's race, Earnhardt got right down to discussing in detail the problems he now is experiencing with "balance and nausea" in the wake of recent wrecks during races at MI and Daytona. In that time, he's sat on a pole and has finished in the top 10 every time that he has competed.

But calamity struck on a Lap 265 pit stop when contact between Bowman's Chevy and Carl Edwards' Toyota cut the left-rear tire on Bowman's vehicle.

"I'm proud of Dale for standing up", Hendrick said. Give Gordon a running audio stream alongside the other studio talking heads and have him commentate his own race. We made a lot of progress this weekend.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been parked for this weekend's NASCAR race and more absences could be ahead.

Nothing is official yet, but a tentative plan is in place for Gordon to return from a vacation in France in time to get to the track and get plenty of practice in to shake off any rust acquired since hanging up the fire suit in November. "I'm looking forward to treatment with the goal of getting back into the race vehicle when the doctors say I'm ready". I've struggled with my balance the last four or five days and definitely wouldn't be able to drive a race vehicle this weekend. "I always do that, so I am going to take this slow and follow the advice of my doctors".

"I don't want him to push himself", Rick Hendrick told NBC Sports on Sunday. It's not about what are we going to do when he does come back.

It's not a knee-jerk reactionary question to the sobering fact that Earnhardt could miss multiple races because of concussion-like symptoms for the second time since 2012. He said he believes the drivers do the right thing and let the teams know if they are hurting. "I made the decision I had to make".

After the most recent race at Kentucky, Earnhardt Jr.is 14th in points, 32 above the cut-line, with no wins.

Team owner Rick Hendrick made it clear he doesn't want a driver to sacrifice his health to stay in the race vehicle. He informed the team Tuesday he wasn't feeling well and they should consider having a driver ready to spell him should he need help this weekend. He wants to be in the vehicle. But the best thing the doctors can do is go through all the protocol and do all the tests, and there's a bunch of tests.

Drivers, often known for toughness in this macho sport, typically race hurt unless a doctor tells them they can't - and even then, they would try unless someone else (NASCAR or the team or their family) forbids them from stepping into the vehicle.

Hendrick was asked how the diagnosis of Earnhardt - who has been in wrecks the last two races - came up. It's really unnecessary, but it really does make me feel good. "I said, 'Well bring your drivers uniform just in case'".

"It's about making sure that he gets better and supporting him and his decision", Duchardt said.

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