Dale Earnhardt Jr. suffered a concussion in the multicar crash at Sunday’s NASCAR race at Talladega Superspeedway and will miss the next two races, his team Hendrick Motorsports announced Thursday.
At a news conference in Charlotte, Earnhardt said the concussion at Talladega actually was his second in the last two months, the first having occurred when he crashed during a test session at Kansas several weeks ago.
Neurological tests and an MRI exam taken after Talladega were normal, Earnhardt said, but he’s sitting out the next two races to avoid further injury. “I feel perfectly fine,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting this cleared up.”
The popular Sprint Cup Series driver was diagnosed Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C., and will not compete at the race in Charlotte on Saturday or the following weekend at Kansas Speedway, Hendrick said.
Regan Smith will be Earnhardt’s replacement at those events.
Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevrolet was among more than 20 cars that were collected in a gigantic crash on the last lap of the Talladega, Ala., race, which was won by Matt Kenseth.
Talladega was the fourth race in the 10-race Chase for the Cup, the title playoff among 12 drivers that include Earnhardt. He currently stands 11th in the Chase, 51 points behind leader Brad Keselowski.
Earnhardt, who said after the race that he “took a lot of hard shots” in the melee, also was sharply critical of the pack racing at Talladega that makes big wrecks a common occurrence.
He said racing like that was “ridiculous” and “bloodthirsty,” adding, “If this is how we raced every week I would find another job.”