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NASCAR's Danica Patrick: 'I'm sure I've had 12 concussions'

NASCAR's Danica Patrick: 'I'm sure I've had 12 concussions'
Danica Patrick stands on pit road after a qualifying run for the NASCAR Daytona 500 on Feb. 19. (Terry Renna / AP)

Danica Patrick estimates she's had at least a dozen concussions during her racing career.

The popular NASCAR driver said Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway if a doctor told her another one would put her at serious risk, she would leave the sport without hesitation.

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"If there was someone that told me or, I would hope any other driver, if you have another wreck, you could have a serious problem, then they would [choose to] be out," Patrick said during the Daytona 500 media day.

"I would be out because I love what I do, but I love lots of other things and I also love life. I'm too young to have it be over."

Dale Earnhardt Jr. missed the last half of the 2016 season because of a concussion, and Patrick said that made her and other drivers stop and think a little more about the topic.

"I've had concussions. Every time you crash, you have a concussion on a varying degree," said Patrick, who will be starting Sunday's race from the 24th position. "When [Earnhardt] said something about having 12 concussions, I'm like, 'I'm sure I've had 12 concussions.' ... It makes you think for sure.

"It makes you pay attention to yourself, and there's nothing better than having somebody like Dale Jr. going as far as getting out of the car as long as he did, saying, 'Hey, I have a problem,' because it makes it more available to everyone else."

Earnhardt returns to the sport Sunday, starting from the No. 2 position. He told reporters he has made sure his doctor is OK with his getting behind the wheel again.

"I say, 'What's going on? What do you think about this? Am I in danger? I'm 42 years old. If you want me to quit racing, I'll quit racing today,' " Earnhardt said. "I'd like to keep racing if I'm able to keep racing. He gives me that confidence in our conversations."

Twitter: @chewkiii

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