Good news, finally, from the Dale Earnhardt Jr. camp.
After a week of difficult updates from Earnhardt as he continues to attempt to recover from concussion-like symptoms, the driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet tweeted Friday morning that he believes he is beginning to turn the corner, citing that it was the first day "in many that I have sensed improvement" and adding that he sees "light at the end of the tunnel."
Earnhardt is sitting out this Sunday’s Crown Royal 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It’s the second consecutive race Earnhardt has missed after experiencing the symptoms and seeing a team of doctors following recent wrecks at Michigan and Daytona, as he also sat out last Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire.
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Hendrick Motorsports already has announced that Jeff Gordon, who retired at the end of last season as a full-time Sprint Cup driver, will replace Earnhardt as driver of the No. 88 at Indy and next week at Pocono Raceway. Alex Bowman subbed for Earnhardt at New Hampshire.
But after a week that began with Earnhardt saying in a Monday podcast that he needed to be patient and that he wasn’t sure when he would be back, his tweet below was a welcome tidbit for his team and his legion of Junior Nation fans.
Today is the 1st day in many that I sensed improvement. Seen small gains during my physical therapy as well. Light at the end of the tunnel.
Shortly thereafter, car owner Rick Hendrick and Gordon met with the media at Indy. Both commented that they were pleased to see Earnhardt’s tweet, and Hendrick added that that he and Gordon saw and spoke with Earnhardt Wednesday at the Hendrick Motorsports shop.
“I think you saw the tweet this morning,” Hendrick said. “Wednesday he came by the shop and we got to visit with him. He looks good. He’s encouraged. He’s following the doctors’ orders, and we’re really excited.
“So he’s in great spirits. He wants to get back in the car and he wants to race. But he also knows that the regimen they have him on will get him right for a long time. And so, he’s following doctors’ orders. I can tell he’s getting antsy, but he’s going to do what they say. So he’s doing well.”