Earnhardt will try a supporting role
Dale Earnhardt Jr. remains on the mend with concussion-related symptoms, but he will be back trackside to cheer on his Hendrick Motorsports teammates this weekend at Dover International Speedway.
Earnhardt — who shut it down for the rest of the year on doctor’s advice after suffering a midseason concussion — promises that he will be watching the Xfinity and Sprint Cup races from the pit box.
He’s hoping that gives an extra giddy-up to Chase qualifiers Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott.
“It’s going to be different and tough and maybe not a ton of fun,” he said on his podcast Monday. “It’s a bit weird to not be in the car but at the track. When you’re a driver, you don’t know what to do with yourself. I’ll try to support the guys and learn a thing or two.
“Excited to see how (substitute driver) Jeff (Gordon) does; he usually runs great at Dover.”
Earnhardt also reported incremental progress with his health-related issues. He said his vision issues mostly have subsided, and his rehabilitation exercises no longer are causing bad side effects.
“The only thing that triggers the symptoms is going somewhere I’m unfamiliar with, going somewhere I’ve never been, where it is busy, a lot of people talking, a lot of movement, a lot of visual stimulation,” Earnhardt said.
Earnhardt hopes to return to competitive driving next season.
“I’m going to be doing a lot of stuff that’s really hard for anybody to do to improve the balance and my response time and how Dale Earnhardt Jr. says not all his concussion-related issues have abated yet. quick I’m reacting to things. [I’m] still working on it and I enjoy the work.” Pit-stop changes? A lot of industries are cost-cutting these days. NASCAR is no exception.
Discussions are ongoing between team owners and NASCAR officials to consider reducing the number of pit-crew members going over the wall from six to five, according to Motorsport.com.
The move could happen as early as 2017. Each team would be allowed to decide how to orchestrate its pit stops. The most likely scenario involves the elimination of a tire carrier.
The measure is also seen as a safety initiative to decrease the number of people along pit road. Last word: Steve Letarte, NBC Sports NASCAR analyst, on Kevin Harvick’s winning run at NewHampshire: “Harvick has never been eliminated in this Chase format. This year he can say that again.”