Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, was evaluated this week in Charlotte, NC, and has not received clearance from his physicians to race. Alex Bowman will replace him this weekend at New Hampshire.
“I wasn’t feeling great the week going into Kentucky (Speedway) and thought it was possibly severe allergies,” said Earnhardt in a written statement issued by Hendrick Motorsports. “I saw a family doctor and was given medication for allergies and a sinus infection. When that didn’t help, I decided to dig a little deeper. Because of my symptoms and my history with concussions, and after my recent wrecks at Michigan and Daytona, I reached out and met with a neurological specialist. After further evaluation, they felt it was best for me to sit out.
“I’m disappointed about missing New Hampshire this weekend. I’m looking forward to treatment with the goal of getting back in the race car when the doctors say I’m ready.”
A timetable for Earnhardt’s return has not been established. Hendrick Motorsports will provide an update next week regarding their plans for the July 24 event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“I’m proud of Dale for standing up,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “The number-one priority is his health, so we’re going to give him all the time he needs. We completely support the decision by the doctors and will be ready to go win races when he’s 100 percent. In the meantime, we have full confidence in Greg Ives and the team, and we know they’ll do a great job.”
In 2012, Earnhardt suffered a pair of concussions in a six-week span that sidelined him from two races at the start of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He announced in April of this year that he will donate his brain to science, post-mortem, in an attempt to advance research into Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
He is currently 13th in championship points, just 32 points above the current Chase cutoff. NASCAR has awarded medical waivers to drivers in the past, based on similar cases; allowing him to still qualify for the Chase, despite not attempting to qualify for every regular-season event.
NASCAR has not commented on whether he will be awarded such a waiver.