Team owner Rick Hendrick has clarified his comments from early Sunday regarding Dale Earnhardt Jr., saying the NASCAR Sprint Cup star is not yet officially cleared to return to racing.
Hendrick had confirmed that Earnhardt Jr. was cleared to race next weekend at Martinsville Speedway. During Sunday’s Chase for the Sprint Cup race at Kansas, however, he said that although Earnhardt Jr. has done well in tests up to this point, he has an on-track test Monday and a test in Dr. Jerry Petty’s office Tuesday and has not yet been officially cleared.
Earnhardt was diagnosed with a concussion after a last-lap crash at Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 7. The injury followed an earlier crash during testing at Kansas Speedway on Aug. 29, which NASCAR measured at 40 Gs of G-force.
On Oct. 11, Earnhardt announced he was withdrawing from Sprint Cup competition for the next two weeks while he underwent the recovery process.
Earnhardt was 11th in Sprint Cup points at the time of his announcement. Regan Smith has subbed for Earnhardt in his absence.
Hendrick said early Sunday that Earnhardt was “anxious” to return to competition.
“He can’t wait to get back in the car," Hendrick said. "He’s really anxious — and we’re anxious to get him back.”
“Dale is a good friend,” Hendrick added. “He means so much to the sport. He means so much to our company. And I care about him. But he’s the sparkplug for this sport and our organization too. It just shows you how fragile things are and how you can get hurt in these cars. As much as we do to make them safe, things can happen.”