Thursday, December 14, 2017
Sports

Gordon: I couldn't stop if concussed

Though Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned praise for his forthright handling of a concussion after Sunday's race at Talladega, Jeff Gordon, Earnhardt's teammate at Hendrick Motorsports, said he might not have taken the same path.

Earnhardt sought medical attention for his second concussion in six weeks after not going to a doctor after the first concussion, sustained Aug. 29 in a testing accident at Kansas Speedway. Prominent neurologist Jerry Petty diagnosed the issue this week and told Earnhardt to sit out at least the next two races.

Earnhardt, who made the Chase for the Championship for the second straight season, starts his enforced hiatus this week with the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He is 11th in points, 51 behind leader Brad Keselowski.

Realistically, Earnhardt would have been a long shot for the title.

Gordon said if he were in a similar spot, he wouldn't seek medical attention with the title on the line.

"Honestly, I hate to say this, but no, I wouldn't," he said. "That's why I say we all play a part in this. If I have a (chance) at the championship, there's two races to go, my head is hurting and I just came through a wreck and I am feeling signs of it but I'm still leading the points, or second in the points, I'm not going to say anything.

"I'm sorry. You know, that's the competitor in me, and probably many other guys. And that's to a fault. That's not the way it should be. It's something that most of us, I think, would do. I think that's what gets a lot of us in trouble."

NASCAR vice president of competition Steve O'Donnell said tracking concussions of drivers is a "subjective call." Doctors at infield care centers can, but are not required to, give drivers a Concussion Reduction Technology test or MRI if a concussion is suspected. Drivers with concussions must receive medical clearance to return to racing.

FULL OF INFORMATION: If you thought Kurt Busch was going to a single-car team, think again — sort of.

Busch recently signed with Furniture Row Racing, a one-car operation in Denver, but the team has a strong alliance with Richard Childress Racing as a customer for engines, chassis and technical support.

Busch will run the next six races with Furniture Row, having replaced Regan Smith, and will drive for the team in 2013.

"The basic core concept is just to get familiar with everything, communication, the process on how the team operates through some of their sequences of changes with the car," said Busch, who starts 21st in tonight's Bank of America 500 in his debut driving the No. 78 Chevrolet.

"All the information that I have from my days at Penske, my days at Roush and then working with some of the Hendrick guys (in his tenure at Phoenix Racing) this year, all that information I need to be able to digest and give to them the right way."

ALLMENDINGER BACK: With Busch vacating the No. 51 at Phoenix Racing and Smith, who was to take that ride, instead replacing Earnhardt in the No. 88, a spot opened and was filled by AJ Allmendinger, whose NASCAR suspension for a positive drug test has ended.

It's the first time he has been in a car since his July 7 suspension. Allmendinger said he tested positive for Adderall, a prescription drug.

"I've just got to get comfortable," Allmendinger said. "This is the longest I haven't driven a race car in at least six years. … So I'm a little nervous, trying to get back into the flow of things."

ENGINE CHANGE: Ryan Newman had to have the engine changed in his No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. He will lose his third-place starting spot and will start from the back.

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