Dale Earnhardt Jr: “If you’re going to drive race cars for a living, it’s a dangerous sport”
Dale Earnhardt Jr retired from a full-time NASCAR career following several NASCAR caused concussions. You could make the argument that’s the reason Dale Earnhardt Jr just retired. He’s never said that directly. However, he’s hinted at it many time.
Following the Talladega Superspeedway race, it became apparent to me. Following that race, Dale Earnhardt Jr admitted concern heading into the race. He was thankful to complete that race without injury. He stated, “This was one that I was worried about.”
Then, toward the end of the season. Dale Earnhardt Jr admitted, “I didn’t know whether I would finish it.” He was speaking on his final season. A hard hit could have sidelined him, in his final year.
Does Dale Earnhardt Jr have a message for future drivers and owners about concussion awareness?
“I think that prevention is difficult,” Dale Earnhardt Jr told reporters at the Homestead-Miami Speedway media center. “Just awareness is something that I can speak on.”
“If you’re going to drive race cars for a living, it’s a dangerous sport. Injury and all that’s always a possibility. The only thing that I can say is that when I was in my 20’s and I’d get a concussion I didn’t know I had one.”
“But, as you get older, for whatever reason your body is easier for you to understand. When you have injury in your 30’s or 40’s, you know your body so well at that point, it’s obvious that there’s an issue.”
“When you’re in your twenty’s, you don’t know exactly the feeling that you have. It’s not as obvious to you.”
“The only thing I can say is… If you do have a sensation that something’s not right then you need to put yourself in front of somebody that can help you. The biggest mistake you can make is to ignore it and push through.”
“Those things can add up and create serious issues for you down the road if you’re not taking care of ’em individually. The attitude for a lot of years and even today with a lot of people is to try and push through it. I think that’s what’s gotta change.”
“People need to start taking it a little more seriously and try to take better care of themselves for the long term. The mistakes that I made are that I didn’t flag those issues and say, ‘I need to get myself in front of a doctor.’ ”
“It caught up with me. I think that’s something I can share with other drivers and other people about not making those mistakes.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr
Here are the timeline of events leading up to the retirement of NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.
October 7, 2012:
Dale Earnhardt Jr suffers concussion at Talladega Superspeedway.
June 12, 2016:
Dale Earnhardt Jr didn’t feel right after hitting the wall at Michigan International Speedway.
July 2, 2016:
Dale Earnhardt Jr was involved in two incidents at Daytona International Speedway.
July 9, 2016:
Dale Earnhardt Jr finished 13th at Kentucky Speedway. After that race, the incidents from Michigan and Daytona caught up to him. Dale Earnhardt Jr pulled himself from the car.
December 9, 2016:
NASCAR clears Dale Earnhardt Jr to return to the race car following concussion therapy.
Related: Dale Earnhardt Jr cleared to drive
April 25, 2017:
Dale Earnhardt Jr announces his retirement at the conclusion of the 2017 season.