Thursday, October 18, 2012

Junior: Take The Rest Of The Year Off

Take Your Time Dale
To: Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Subject: Take the rest of the year off

Really Junior, what’s the rush?

You’re already out of the championship hunt.  So why come back with only four races on the schedule.  What’s to gain by coming back three weeks after suffering your second concussion of the year? 

Okay, I’m sure you feel a responsibility to your team, your sponsors, to NASCAR and to your fans. 

Don’t worry about them.  They’ll all be there at Daytona next February.  Your only responsibility now is to yourself.  To get yourself better. 

The word is you'll test next week at Martinsville.  The temptation must be strong to return for Martinsville if the doctors will let you.  It’s one of your best and favorite tracks.  It’s a special track for the Hendrick team.  But Texas the week after?  No thanks.  Not now.  And to start picking and choosing your races would be a mistake.  When you come back, you need to come back totally committed.  Martinsville isn’t going anyway.  It’s on the schedule again next year.

You may be thinking there’s a benefit to coming back this year, getting all the questions out of the way now, before the new season rolls around.   Sorry, those questions are going to be around for a long time to come.  Every time you’re in an accident the media will want to know how you’re feeling.  What they’re really asking is does you head hurt.  The microscope you’ve been under ever since you entered this sport is only going to magnify.  Get used to it.  

Why not just begin your return during off-season testing.  Start slowly, work your way back, away from the glare of fans and the media.  

The concussion debate is relatively new to NASCAR, but it has been ongoing for some time now in football and I know you’re a football fan.  You probably know the story of Jahvid Best.  The 2010 first round draft choice of the Detroit Lions hasn’t played in a year because of a concussion.  He’s had a history of concussions, at least three, dating back to his college days at California.  Lions’ coach Jim Schwartz says there is no way to tell when Best will come back.

"You know, I've said this time and time again, it's different than any other injury," Schwartz said earlier this week. "Any other injury you can try and put some kind of timetable on it, and that (a concussion) you can't.”

That’s the problem, there’s so much we don’t understand about concussions.  So why take any chance right now when you don’t need to?   Error on the side of caution.  If three weeks may or may not be enough time to heal, just think what three months will do for you.

So go ahead Junior, take the rest of the year off.  Even if the doctors clear you to race, take a little more time. 

Just to be sure.

To Rick Hendrick: Junior has said it before, in many ways you’re like a second farther to him.  As a result, you may be in the toughest position of all.  I’m sure you’re proud of your driver, the courage he’s shown and want to support him in any way you can.  A team owner would probably put a driver back in his car as soon as he said he was ready.  A father, I’m not so sure.

To Jeff Gordon: Okay, we know what you’d do if you still had a chance to win the championship with two races left.  I don’t blame you for what your said.  But what about in Junior’s position?  He’s always looked up to you.  Talk to him as a friend and teammate.  You don’t need to tell him what to do, just listen and understand.  


  1. Makes a lot of sense!

  2. I think what Gordon said was taken out of context. The point was racers, being competitive by nature, will always try to hide the injury and race on. The choice should not rest with them. The racing body needs to step in at some point and say, "You're sitting this one out." I think that was what Jeff was going for. The pressure to perform forces the driver to make the wrong decision, so take that decision away from the driver in a head injury.

  3. Easy to say hard for Junior to do, he is a racer, take him out of his environment, and his skills suffer.Ya know what they say fall off your bike get back on it. I agree for his safety he shouldn't drive so soon, but I also know the heart of a racer.

  4. It would be nice for Nascar to allow drivers to drop one race. Not only to encourage them to skip a race for injuries but also for drivers who have the flu or are expecting the birth of a child.

    Either that or allow a driver filling in to accumulate points when a driver must sit out.