Dale Earnhardt Jr. took to his weekly podcast on his website to speak out for the first time about the concussion-related symptoms that sidelined him for last weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Speedway.
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 currently is experiencing with "balance and nausea" in the wake of recent wrecks during races at Michigan and Daytona.
It’s just going to take a lot of patience. I put my health and quality of life as a top priority. And I’ll always do that.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
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"I know there’s probably a lot of speculation about what type of injury or symptoms I’m dealing with," Earnhardt said on the podcast. "My mind feels real sharp. I took the impact test, which measures thought process and the speed of your thought process, and memory and retaining memory, and my results matched my baseline (test results), which made me feel confident that my brain was pretty sharp. It feels good.
"The symptoms that I have are balance and nausea. So I’ve struggled with my balance over the last four or five days, and I definitely wouldn’t have been able to drive a race car (last) weekend. So making the right decision really was out of the question. I made the decision that I had to make.
"I’m going to continue to work with my doctors to understand more about the injury and how to treat it. They can give me a lot of exercises that will re-train my brain to handle what I need to handle. It’s just going to take a lot of patience.
"I put my health and quality of life as a top priority. And I’ll always do that. So I’m going to take this slow and strictly follow the advice of my doctors, and try to learn as much as I can to be smarter and wiser. It’s always been a real experience going through this kind of stuff because you learn so much through the experience. I’ve got some great doctors to learn from.
"So like I said, I miss everybody. I really appreciate all the support that I’ve gotten. It’s really unnecessary, but it really does make me feel good. I have to be honest. To hear everybody wishing me well really, really does my heart good. This kind of thing can beat you down and get you sad, but I’ve got a lot of good people around me, a lot of people supporting me. I hope we can get back at the track soon. Until then, we’ll try to keep you updated on the progress. You guys have a good week."
Earlier on the podcast, The Dale Jr. Download, Earnhardt opened with, "Hey, everybody. It’s Dale Jr. This is Sunday evening after New Hampshire. I’m proud of Alex Bowman."
Bowman, driving the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in Earnhardt’s place at New Hampshire, was running eighth when he had a tire go down with 29 laps to go and hit the outside wall. He went on to finish 26th, but Earnhardt praised the young driver on Twitter afterward.
Earnhardt heaped more praise on Bowman in his podcast.
"He did a great job. I knew he would," Earnhardt said. "We had a great car to test and (crew cheif) Greg (Ives) and all those guys did a good job over the weekend of getting him comfortable. I was kind of plugged in to what they were doing throughout the weekend. So it was fun to feel like I was part of it, anyways, a little bit of help. But it was fun, and fun to watch.
"I missed all my guys and missed the drivers and the media and everybody. I missed the fans. I missed being at the track. But I couldn’t have asked for a better substitute there than to have Alex digging."