Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he has no regrets about sitting out the second half of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule while he recovers from a serious concussion.
“I felt like if I did come back and compete in the Chase and have an accident, that I would most likely reinjure myself as bad, if not worse,” Earnhardt told SIRIUSXM Speedway radio show host Brad Gillie.
“More than likely, that could put my career in serious doubt,” Earnhardt said. “I’m glad that I had the opportunity to step away from the car as long as I have (and) put a lot of distance between me and the injury so that I can go into next year confident that I’m healed and healthy.”
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Earnhardt told Gillie that he is continuing to grow stronger.
“We’ve been taking medication, a very small dose, to kind of numb some of the systems to make the days really tolerable,” Earnhardt said. “And we’re at a point now where we can come off of that medication.”
Earnhardt went on to say that he now is symptom-free when he exercises.
“I’ve gotten to where I can do pretty much any physical activity and not have symptoms,” Earnhardt said. “That’s a sign of good progress.”
Earnhardt has not raced since July and will end the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season having competed in just 18 of 36 races. And he said he occasionally still suffers effects from the concussion.
“I still have some issues when I go to unfamiliar environments, especially when there’s a lot of people or activity,” said Earnhardt. “But that’s to be expected, and that’s kind of the last final stages of getting well — when you’re feeling that.
“Once you go to those areas and not have those symptoms come out, you know you’ve progressed beyond that point,” said Earnhardt. “And we’re starting to get to where we can come off the medications, too. It’s not needed any more.”