QUESTIONS & ATTITUDE
Compelling questions... and maybe a few actual answers
How big is this headache?
Technically, we don’t know how the issue with Junior Earnhardt’s concussion symptoms will play out. That’s the thing about the brain — it’s a mystery and answers to no timetable. But without question, we know this: If Junior decides he doesn’t want to risk further longterm effects, and retires either relatively soon, very soon or perhaps even immediately, NASCAR’s movers and shakers will be reaching for the Tylenol.
It’d be that big of a blow?
Absolutely. Over the past decade-plus, plenty of lifelong fans have found reason to be upset with a sport they love. Many still hang in there, but some gave up. Undoubtedly, many of those who are still hanging in there are old Earnhardt fans (the No. 3) who continue hanging in there because of Junior. If Junior goes, some of them go, maybe along with some, or many, or most, of the younger fans Junior brought in on his own.
What if you were Junior?
I’d obviously be torn, assuming he still enjoys the racing aspect of his career. If this issue forces him into retirement sooner than he’d planned, it’s not like he could occasionally scratch his racin’ itch at some late-model track near home. He’d be done with it entirely. The good news is, he seems to have a rather full and fun life away from the track, so he’d be busy and happy. NASCAR’s Boys in Marketing … not so much.
Ken Willis has been covering NASCAR for The Daytona Beach News-Journal for 27 years. Reach him at ken. email@example.com