Thursday, October 11, 2012

Dale Earnhardt Jr. comments on his concussion situation

Dale Earnhardt Jr. met the media today
Dale Earnhardt Jr. will miss the next two races in the Sprint Cup Series, this weekend at Charlotte and next weekend at Kansas, as he recuperates from a concussion suffered during the wreck on the final lap at Talladega next weekend. Below are some of his comments from is presser today as he met the media, where he announced that Regan Smith will fill the seat of the #88.

"I guess I'll just start out with where this all kind of began." Junior started today. "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, but I knew that I didn't feel -- 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 quarterpanel, 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 and knew -- again, you know how your body is and you know when something is not quite right, and I knew as soon as it happened that I had reinjured myself, for lack of a better way to describe it. It didn't feel -- it was not even half of the impact that I had at Kansas, but it was enough to cause me some concern."
"So I went a couple days wondering how my body would react and sort of waiting for it to process what was happening.  About Wednesday I was still having some headaches, just that was really the only symptoms that I was having was the headaches.  So I took it upon myself to -- I contacted my sister, and we talked about seeing a neurosurgeon, and we ended up getting steered toward Dr. Petty.  Met with him, ran through a couple tests, everything was checking out, and did an MRI, everything looked good there.  But I was really honest with him about how I felt and honest with him about the whole process from Kansas all the way on. He spent the night thinking about what we discussed and everything that we did on Wednesday and couldn't, in good -- couldn't clear me to race this weekend.  I trust his opinion.  That's why I went to see him.  He's been a good friend of mine for a long time and has helped me through a lot of injuries before, so I believe when he tells me I don't need to be in the car and I need to take a couple weeks off that that's what I need to do." 

"That's pretty much the extent of it.  I got a lot of support from my team.  I'm excited about their opportunities the next couple weeks with Regan, and just looking forward to getting this cleared up and getting back in the car as soon as I can so I can get back to work with my team and getting back to competing on Sundays."

On previous concussions: "Well, I can't really recall precisely every run I've had.  Me and Dr. Petty were trying to count them the other day.  But those were really mild and you were fine in 48 hours.  For whatever the reason the wreck at Kansas was just really severe and really surprised me how tough it was to get past that. I thought I was in the clear, but just that little accident at Talladega, I started having headaches and stuff immediately after the wreck, and then into the next day and into Tuesday, and I thought, man, this is pretty soon after the other accident in Kansas.  I should probably take this really seriously and seek some professional opinions on this. Typically they only last 24 to 48 hours and go away, and sometimes you don't even -- sometimes to be honest you don't even really know you have a mild concussion." Junior said. 

On whether or not he saw a doctor after the Kansas incident: "No, I didn't see anybody at Kansas.  I was -- I regret not seeing somebody after that happened.  I was stubborn, and I'd had concussions before and knew what I was -- thought I knew what I was dealing with and felt like that I was capable of doing my job. I had called Steve.  We talked about how I was feeling, and I told him that I really -- I felt pretty good, but I really wouldn't know if I would be able to compete until I got into the car.  When you have a concussion, the symptoms can be really mild, and then they'll typically go away after a couple days and you feel perfectly normal.  But then when you get in a car and you go around the track at a high rate of speed, you start to understand that some things just aren't quite where they need to be and some reactions just aren't as sharp." Junior said. 

Dale Jr. added "You really can't get a measurement of that until you're in the car.  You can't even -- there's just no way of knowing until you can drive.  I wasn't willing to -- with the Chase coming up, I didn't know how difficult -- if I was to volunteer myself to medical attention and be removed from the car, I didn't know how difficult it would be to get back in. But I was honest with Steve and told Steve, I said, when we get to Atlanta and if I don't feel good, I'm going to be honest with you and tell you that we need to have something as a backup plan for me to get out of the car.  I wasn't going to drive the car if I felt like I was going to deal my crew chief and my team a shorthand that weekend. That's kind of the same reason I waited until Wednesday.  The shot at Kansas was -- I think we got the data, but it was around 40 Gs, and the shot at Talladega was only around 20 Gs.  It wasn't really that big of a wreck, and the fact that I felt the way I did was what concerned me after the accident at Talladega because it wasn't that hard of a hit. I wanted to process how I felt over a couple days.  I went to the doctor Tuesday, actually. Anyways, we -- you know, I just wanted to process what was happening, and I knew having them two concussions back-to-back was not a good thing.  So I needed to go see somebody regardless of whether I wanted to get out of the car or not.  Just for my own well-being, I couldn't -- if I didn't need to go get in a race car and get hit again, I needed somebody to tell me that because I was going to have a hard time making that decision for myself.  I feel perfectly fine, but I don't want to keep getting hit in the head." Earnhardt said. 

Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

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