The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS -

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. wil­lis@news-jrnl.com

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