Dale Earnhardt Jr sustained a concussion in the 25-car-pileup that occurred on the last lap of the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, according to ESPN.com. As a result, Earnhardt Jr will miss the next two Sprint Cup Series races, ending his title hopes this season.
Earnhardt Jr had an uphill climb in the championship battle without this setback, as he sits 11th in points, 51 behind points leader Brad Keselowski. Whatever slim shot he had at the championship before this news is now over.
Regan Smith will replace Earnhardt Jr in the No. 88 for the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.
Smith was slated to make his debut with Phoenix Racing in the No. 51 at Charlotte. No word as to whether or not that team will enter the Bank of America 500 or who the driver would be.
Update: AJ allmendinger will drive Phoenix Racing’s No. 51 at Charlotte.
Update 2: Dale Earnhardt Jr held a press conference. During that conference, he said:
We had a test at Kansas about five weeks ago, and we blew a right front tire going into Turn 1, and I remember everything about that accident and everything after that accident. You know your body, and you know how your mind works, and I knew something was just not quite right. But I decided to just try to push through and work through it. I’d had concussions before and knew exactly kind of what I was dealing with. I felt pretty good after a week or two and definitely 80, 90 percent by the time the Chase started, and by the time we got to Talladega I felt 100 percent, felt really good. And then the accident at the end of that race, I was hit in the left rear quarter panel, and it was sort of an odd kind of a collision where the car spun around really quick and just sort of disoriented me, and I knew that I had sort of regressed and had a bit of a setback.”
Team owner Rick Hendrick added:
[F]or these two guys to have the kind of year they’ve had, to lead the points and get in the Chase, we’ve got a lot of years left to race, I always want to be on the side of safety, and I applaud Dale for raising his hand and going in there and getting checked out.
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