Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been medically cleared to resume NASCAR competition and says he will race at the 2017 Daytona 500.
NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. has made a full recovery from a concussion and has been medically cleared to resume competition for the 2017 Premier Series season, Hendrick Motorsports announced Thursday.
Earnhardt, 42, was cleared Wednesday by doctors after completing a 185-lap test session at Darlington Raceway. He also spent more than 15 hours in a racing simulator during his recovery. He plans to race in the 2017 Daytona 500, scheduled for Feb. 26.
Earnhardt Jr. has not driven since the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway in July and missed the last 18 races of the season.
“I feel great, and I’m excited to officially be back,” Earnhardt said. “I expected things to go really well yesterday, and that’s exactly what happened. Actually getting in a race car was an important final step, and it gives me a ton of confidence going into 2017. Thanks to the staff at Darlington for hosting our team and to NASCAR for giving us the opportunity to put a car on the track. I’ll do more testing in January to help knock the rust off. When it’s time to go to Daytona, I’ll be ready.”
Alex Bowman filled in for Earnhardt for 10 races and four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon stepped in the No. 88 for eight races during Earnhardt’s absence.
- Scooby Axson