Dale Earnhardt Jr. to take remainder of year off due to concussion
Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter
Darlington, SC, United States (4E Sports) – Dale Earnhardt Jr . said he will take the rest of the year off as he recovers from a concussion that he suffered during a June 12 wreck at Michigan International Speedway.
According to Earnhardt , he feels better as he continues to rehabilitate the vision and balance issues he suffers from but added that he does not belong in a race car as of now.
“I have the passion and the desire to drive,” said Earnhardt , who has missed the past seven Sprint Cup races including Sunday’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
“I enjoy it. … My heart is there to continue, and if my doctor says I’m physically able to continue, that’s an easier decision for me to make,” he added.
Despite his condition, Earnhardt declared that retirement is far from his mind.
“Retirement is not something I think about. We’re trying to focus on just getting well and getting normal,” he said.
The 41-year-old driver is preparing to return to the seat in 2017, and his doctor, Dr. Micky Collins, said the treatment focuses on Earnhardt being able to handle everyday life and then a race car.
Earnhardt has battled balance and vision issues associated with gaze stability — the ability to focus on an object in the distance while moving his head. He is going through vision, stability and exercise therapy.
Earnhardt , who turns 42 in October, has 26 victories — including two Daytona 500 wins — in 595 career Sprint Cup starts. He has finished in the top 10 in 42 percent of his races.
Earnhardt Jr . has never won a Cup title, with a best finish in the season standings of third in 2003. After missing the Chase for two consecutive seasons, he has enjoyed a career resurgence with five consecutive Chase appearances from 2011 to 2015.
Four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon has competed in five races since Earnhardt had to step out of the car, including a 14th-place finish Sunday night in the Southern 500, and he will drive three more this season.
Alex Bowman, who has driven in two races in place of Earnhardt , will drive eight more to the end of the year.