NASCAR

NASCAR to mandate concussion tests

Dale Earnhardt Jr
Dale Earnhardt Jr. missed two races because of a concussion last year.
Share This Story

   
 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)

NASCAR will require baseline concussion testing for its drivers starting next season.

IT ADDS UP

Where did your favorite driver finish in the 2013 final standings?

NASCAR had only recommended the testing this season, but indicated to drivers that a preseason baseline screening could become mandatory as early as 2014. The baseline test will be compared with test results taken after a driver has crashed to help diagnose a concussion.

"NASCAR made this decision because we think it is important to drivers' health for doctors to have the best information and tools available in evaluating injuries," said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR vice president of racing operations.

Drivers were informed of the mandate during a Thursday meeting at the R&D Center in Concord with top NASCAR officials that lasted nearly two hours and covered a variety of topics concerning 2014 changes.

The baseline testing will be performed through the widely used neurocognitive assessment ImPACT test, which evaluates an athlete's verbal and visual memory, processing speed and reaction time.

"Before announcing this rule, we provided drivers concussion and baseline testing education and created opportunities for them to ask any questions they may have to a top neurosurgeon that specializes in traumatic brain injuries," O'Donnell said. "ImPACT tests are not new to our sport and have been used for treatment through the years."

O'Donnell said in February that NASCAR had identified 32 concussions in its top three national series since 2004, including three in 2012. One suffered by Dale Earnhardt Jr. forced NASCAR concussions into the spotlight.

WINNING WAYS

Check out all the 2013 Sprint Cup race winners. SEE THEM ALL

Earnhardt was injured in a crash during an August 2012 tire test at Kansas, but didn't seek treatment for a mild concussion. His stubborn streak instead kept him behind the wheel, and he was then part of a 25-car pileup in October at Talladega that triggered lingering headaches and other recognizable warning signs.

Earnhardt went to a doctor, and he was ultimately benched for two races.

Earnhardt's plight led four-time series champion Jeff Gordon to voluntarily take the ImPACT test, which has long been mandatory in the IndyCar Series.

"I just think whether it's voluntary or not, it's a good idea to have," Gordon said in February. "I don't think that NASCAR necessarily has to make it mandatory, but if you're a race car driver, and you feel you're going to be here for a while, you need to make it mandatory to yourself."

Drivers this year were invited to two concussion education sessions featuring Dr. Vinay Deshmukh of Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates, a member of NASCAR's medical advisory group. Drivers were presented with an overview of what concussions are, their causes, treatment and the role that baseline tests play in the comprehensive evaluation of concussions.

"We are extremely confident that our concussion protocol is among the best in sports," O'Donnell said. "We regularly review all of our practices involving safety and health to see if there is anything that we can do better, or should do differently moving forward. Implementing baseline testing is a primary example of our philosophy to protect our competitors the best that we can."

Tagged: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



NASCAR Videos

Larry’s Notebook: Is Jimmie Johnson Behind the Curve? Posted: Jul 15, 2014
Larry McReynolds weighs in on whether or not the No. 48 will be at a disadvantag...

Larry’s Notebook: Off-Week Blues Posted: Jul 15, 2014
Larry McReynolds weighs in on which teams will benefit the most from the week of...

Winner's Weekend: Brad Keselowski Unstoppable at Loudon Posted: Jul 15, 2014
The biggest issue the No. 2 team faced at Loudon was where to hide the champagne...

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Chase Authentics Danica Patrick Big Rig Tri-Blend T-Shirt - Charcoal http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Danica_Patrick/browse/featuredproduct/974547/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_974000/ff_974547_xl.jpg&w=100 26.95 Chase Authentics Danica Patrick Big Rig Tri-Blend T-Shirt - Charcoal
    Kyle Busch One Spot Gauge T-Shirt - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Kyle_Busch/browse/featuredproduct/1011659/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1011000/ff_1011659_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Kyle Busch One Spot Gauge T-Shirt - Black
    Matt Kenseth One Spot Gauge T-Shirt - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Matt_Kenseth/browse/featuredproduct/1011661/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1011000/ff_1011661_xl.jpg&w=100 9.99 Matt Kenseth One Spot Gauge T-Shirt - Black
    Chase Authentics Carl Edwards 2013 Driver Schedule T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Carl_Edwards/browse/featuredproduct/1041164/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1041000/ff_1041164_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Chase Authentics Carl Edwards 2013 Driver Schedule T-Shirt - Ash