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Earnhardt Jr.: I feel stronger than before
RELATED: See Junior's 2017 car " Wedding plans " Contract talks coming soon Wednesday's test at Darlington Raceway confirmed what Dale Earnhardt Jr . already suspected -- that he has recovered from a concussion suffered at midseason of 2016, and that he is fit and healthy enough to resume competing in NASCAR's premier series. While this year's incident, which caused Earnhardt to miss the final 18 races, was the second time he had been sidelined due to a concussion, Earnhardt made no bones about his eagerness to climb back in the No. 88 Chevrolet when the 2017 season gets underway. Saying he feels he has "a lot left in the tank," Earnhardt spoke about his recovery, his return and what lies ahead during a national teleconference Friday. "I wouldn't be coming back to the seat and wanting to drive and be excited about driving cars if there was any risk other than the typical risk that every driver faces on Sunday," the 42-year-old Earnhardt said. "I feel very confident in what I've seen in myself in my improvement and what my doctors are telling me about my future and the risk that I'm taking, and my ability to be able to withstand the normal wear and tear of not only driving a race, but getting in that unfortunate accident from time to time. "We all feel pretty confident that not only am I as healthy as I was before the symptoms came last year but I'm actually stronger. Having gone through this before also gives me additional confidence. This isn't uncharted territory for me. I know what I need to feel personally to know that I'm as strong as I need to be and healthy. I'm certainly feeling that way. But I'm also hearing the affirmation from my doctors that I can go back and drive race cars." Earnhardt worked with Dr. Micky Collins of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program in Pittsburgh throughout his recovery. Charlotte neurosurgeon Dr. Jerry Petty was on hand at Darlington to monitor Earnhardt's progress. After a brief pre-test evaluation by Dr. Petty to determine a baseline, Earnhardt said he spent the afternoon running multiple laps around the rugged 1.366-mile track. During frequent breaks he was re-evaluated by Dr. Petty. While Earnhardt said he hoped to see the results of his responses to the stimuli of being back in a race car remain constant, they actually improved throughout the course of the day. "You sort of get acclimated and up to speed with what it takes to drive a race car," Earnhardt said. "Those systems strengthen through that process. Rather than see them sort of flat line and stay the same, which was what I was hoping for, they actually got stronger. "I felt like throughout the day I got more and more comfortable in the car ... it felt like an old shoe by the end of the day." Once the session ended, he said, "We felt really, really confident that healthwise I was 100 percent and ready to get back in the car." Although the 2017 season won't officially get underway until Feb. 26 with the running of the Daytona 500 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), Earnhardt said he will also participate in an organizational test scheduled for Jan. 31/Feb. 1 at Phoenix International Raceway . The focus of that test won't be to monitor his health, but to simply give him more time behind the wheel and help the team prepare as the new season approaches. "Testing is kind of boring but I'm ready to get more and more laps in the car," he said. "I feel real, real confident and my self-confidence is real (crucial) for me to perform well. The more I can do to help build my confidence before we go to Daytona the better so I'm excited." Team owner Rick Hendrick said having NASCAR's most popular driver cleared to return to competition was "a great Christmas present for our company and our fans." "By Dale going to the right person and working his butt off, it has made him stronger," Hendrick said. While he has been cleared to return to competition, Earnhardt said he will continue with some of the exercises and programs used during the recovery process. According to Dr. Collins, continued participation would only further strengthen those systems affected. "I'm all for that," Earnhardt said. "I want to be as sharp ... hell, maybe this is something I should have been doing all along. There is a lot of ... stuff on computers that athletes do that don't even have concussions that I have at my fingertips today. ... There is a lot of stuff that I can continue to do that will keep me sharp and keep me ready to go." He doesn't expect to be monitored by NASCAR officials any differently than any other driver going forward, and there are no safety changes being made by the team as a result of his latest incident. As confident as he was before Wednesday's test, Earnhardt admitted he was "anxious" to get behind the wheel. He said he even had trouble sleeping the night before. Any lingering concerns were erased as soon as he hit the track. "Darlington is a tough track, but the nerves were gone after about four laps and then it was ‘Let's just run, let's run some more, put some tires on and go some more,'" he said. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Dale Earnhardt Jr. cleared to resume NASCAR competition
RELATED: Dale through the years " Recovery timeline CAIN: Dale Jr.'s strong stand makes him, sport better NASCAR premier series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr . has received medical clearance to resume his racing career, Hendrick Motorsports announced Thursday. Earnhardt, 42, was sidelined for the final 18 races of the 2016 season after suffering a concussion. On Wednesday, he participated in an on-track testing session at Darlington Raceway under the supervision of Charlotte neurosurgeon Dr. Jerry Petty. Earnhardt was cleared by Dr. Micky Collins, medical director of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program in Pittsburgh. Collins, who consulted with Dr. Petty following Wednesday's on-track activity, has overseen Earnhardt's rehabilitation program and also treated him for a similar injury in 2012. "I expected things to go really well yesterday, and that’s exactly what happened," Earnhardt said of an afternoon spent behind the wheel at the 1.366-mile South Carolina track. "Actually getting in a race car was an important final step, and it gives me a ton of confidence going into 2017." Earnhardt completed 185 laps in his No. 88 Chevrolet during the course of the nearly five-hour session. Crew chief Greg Ives was on hand to oversee his driver’s efforts as well. Earnhardt, recently voted the series most popular driver for the 14th consecutive season, said he expects to do more testing in January "to help knock the rust off." RELATED: Junior wins NMPA Sprint Most Popular Driver Award "When it's time to go to Daytona, I' ll be ready," the winner of 26 premier series races said. The 2017 racing season officially gets underway with the 59th running of the Daytona 500 , scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 26 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Earnhardt will not compete in the annual non-points, season-opening race, The Clash at Daytona International Speedway (Feb. 18, 8 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Instead, HMS officials said Alex Bowman , who filled in for Earnhardt in 10 of the final 18 races of 2016, will drive the team's No. 88 entry. Bowman won the pole at Phoenix in November, his first in the series. "Everyone agreed that he more than earned (the opportunity)," Earnhardt said, "and (sponsor) Nationwide was 100 percent on board." RELATED: NASCAR community reacts to Junior's return It's possible Earnhardt could participate in up to two additional tests – Hendrick Motorsports is one of four teams expected to take part in a Goodyear tire test scheduled for Jan. 10-11 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway , and the season's first organizational test is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 31/Feb. 1 at Phoenix International Raceway . Collins called Earnhardt "one of the hardest-working patients I've ever encountered." "He's done everything we've asked, and we believe he is ready to compete at a professional level again and can withstand the normal forces of a race car driver," Collins said. "Dale has been very open with us, and we've had plenty of time for his treatment, so we feel very good about his long-term prospects and how this has been managed by everyone involved." Team owner Rick Hendrick said he's proud of Earnhardt "for listening to his body and standing up to take responsibility for his health. "He's worked extremely hard and set a terrific example for others," Hendrick said. "It's great news as we go into the offseason, and we can't wait to see him back on the race track at Daytona." In addition to Bowman, four-time series champion Jeff Gordon also drove for the team in eight starts during Earnhardt's absence. Earnhardt was 13th in points with six top-five finishes before being sidelined prior to the July race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and wound up 32nd in the final standings. The 2012 injury forced him to miss two races; he finished 12th in points that season. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Dale Jr.: Bowman 'deserves' to run The Clash
RELATED: Dale Jr. set for Daytona return in 2017 " Format set for The Clash Dale Earnhardt Jr . is set to resume his NASCAR career at Daytona International Speedway in February, but one week later than he potentially could. It's a move borne of deference and appreciation for the driver who admirably filled in last season during his recovery from a neurological ailment. Both Earnhardt and substitute driver Alex Bowman meet eligibility requirements for The Clash, a non-points exhibition race scheduled Feb. 18 (8 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at the 2.5-mile Florida track. But Hendrick Motorsports announced Thursday that Bowman would drive the team's No. 88 Chevrolet in the invitational, a week before the season-opening Daytona 500 . Earnhardt had heard rumblings about rules for the Clash format and field as last season drew to a close. His hunch that 2016 pole winners would make up the majority of the starting lineup was correct. The Clash rules were still up in the air when Bowman -- who ran 10 of the 18 races Earnhardt missed in the second half of last season -- claimed the first Coors Light Pole Award of his career in November at Phoenix International Raceway . After watching the qualifying results play out on pit road, Earnhardt's first words to Hendrick general manager Doug Duchardt were that Bowman should keep the driver's seat for the Daytona preliminary.
Dale Jr. turns 185 laps in Darlington test session
In a teleconference on Friday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. breaks down his over five-hour test session at Darlington Raceway as part of being medically cleared to return to NASCAR competition.
Buescher prepares for move to JTG Daugherty Racing
RELATED: Drivers on the move for '17 " Final standing s NASCAR premier series driver Chris Buescher says he remains under contract with Roush Fenway Racing , but for the second consecutive season the Prosper, Texas native will drive for a team other than RFR when 2017 arrives. The end of November brought with it confirmation that the 24-year-old will compete full-time in a new, second entry to be fielded by JTG Daugherty Racing for the upcoming year. JTG Daugherty had one full-time team with driver AJ Allmendinger in the No. 47 Chevrolet in 2016. Buescher, the 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion, spent '16 driving the No. 34 Ford for Front Row Motorsports where he earned his first premier series win in the weather-shortened Pocono event and made the 16-team Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Heady stuff for a rookie. RELATED: Buescher wins at Pocono "It was pretty incredible," Buescher said of his season with Front Row and crew chief Bob Osborne. "I'm just so proud of Front Row Motorsports and the No. 34 team for what we were able to accomplish … to get that first win and have a lot of good runs along the way, be competitive at different types of tracks was a blast. "Unfortunately we didn't perform as well in the Chase as we would have liked … (but) I learned a lot along the way." Buescher's victory came at Pocono Raceway in August. It was his 27th career start. Having his 2017 plans in place eases much concern but Buescher, 16th in points for 2016, said there are "still a lot of moving pieces floating around." Some are comparable to what he faced heading into this past season when he transitioned from the XFINITY Series; others are entirely different. "It's actually really similar to this year with Front Row," Buescher said of the situation with JTG Daugherty. "This year with Front Row was a loan as well. It was a little bit easier with the (technical) alliance that Front Row and Roush have with the manufacturer (Ford) being the same." However, JTG Daugherty Racing fields Chevrolet entries and enjoys a technical alliance with the three-team Richard Childress Racing organization. RCR provides engines through Earnhardt-Childress Racing as well as engineering support. "There are some unknowns to work through," Buescher said. "But I'm still under contract with Roush Fenway." Team personnel and other aspects of the new entity have yet to be announced. Cars won't be on the track for competition until February. Until then, Buescher said he will be looking over notes from the previous season in an attempt to better understand what worked, what didn't, and why. "That's pretty much the bulk of what we can do (for) next season … as we kind of wait out the calm before the storm," he said. &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
NASCAR's Tharp named Darlington Raceway president
SHOP: Darlington race tickets Darlington Raceway announced Wednesday that it has named Kerry Tharp as president of the historic 1.366-mile South Carolina track. Tharp, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, transitions from his previous role as Senior Director of Communications for NASCAR. He replaces Chip Wile, who was appointed president of Daytona International Speedway on April 25 after a tenure of nearly three years. Tharp begins work at his new post effective July 18. Tharp has deep ties to the Palmetto State, having lived in South Carolina for more than 31 years and serving as associate athletics director at the University of South Carolina from 1985-2005. After his time with the Gamecocks, Tharp joined NASCAR's communications department, forging important relationships within the industry in both his official role as senior director and his unofficial role as NASCAR's "Commander." "I am deeply humbled and honored to have this opportunity," Tharp said. "I love the state of South Carolina and its people. I know how special Darlington Raceway is to this state and to the sport of NASCAR. The track's rich tradition, history, and popularity resonate with the competitors, partners, media and most importantly the fans. I look forward to working with our team to help keep Darlington as one of our sport's crown jewels." Darlington Raceway plays host to the Bojangles' Southern 500 on Sept. 4, a Labor Day weekend tradition that was restored on the NASCAR scheduled last season. The track instituted a popular NASCAR Throwback initiative last year, kicking off a nostalgia-filled celebration of the speedway's heritage. In acknowledgement, Darlington was honored with the 2015 NMPA Myers Brothers Award for its outstanding contributions to the sport of stock-car racing.
Rain at Pocono Raceway postpones Sprint Cup race
RELATED: Live radar, weather updates Intermittent fits of rain postponed the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway to an 11 a.m. ET Monday start. Wet weather moved into the area Saturday evening, and it was raining hard Sunday morning as teams went through pre-race inspection. A fleet of Air Titan 2.0 trucks were on hand to get the track ready as the clouds broke near the scheduled 1:30 p.m. ET start time, but rain began to fall again at approximately 2:30 p.m. ET to halt the track-drying process. The rescheduled 400-mile event will be broadcast on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM. Martin Truex Jr. is the polesitter for the 21st of 36 points-paying races of the Sprint Cup season. Truex, who prevailed in Friday's Coors Light Pole Qualifying, is one of five drivers who can clinch a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with a victory at Pocono. MORE: Full starting lineup The series' first stop at the 2.5-mile triangular track was delayed until Monday due to rain, and Kurt Busch went on to find Victory Lane. This is the first time in a single year that both Pocono races have been postponed to the next day. Rain also affected on-track activities early Saturday, canceling qualifying for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. William Byron went on to win the Pocono Mountains 150 later Saturday. &amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
NASCAR postpones on-track activity Friday at Darlington Raceway
RELATED: See the updated radar With inclement weather expected at Darlington Raceway due to the advancing Hurricane Hermine, NASCAR postponed all at-track activity for Friday. The weather forecast for the remainder of the weekend looks very good, according to the National Weather Service, with the temperatures in the 80s and sunny skies. The Sprint Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, with TV coverage on NBC. The radio broadcast can be found on MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Saturday's schedule will be as follows: * Sprint Cup Series, XFINITY Series qualifying canceled; Lineups per rulebook -- 9-9:55 a.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series final practice ( Follow live ) -- 11 a.m.-12:25 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, CNBC, simulcast on NBCSN from 11:30-12:30, NBC Sports App ( Follow live ) -- 1:30-2:50 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice, NBCSN/NBC Sports App ( Follow live ) -- 3:30 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 (147 laps, 200.8 miles), NBC/NBC Sports App ( Follow live ) &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
GarageCam is for the birds in Sonoma
Host Matthew Dillner takes you through the NSCS garage at Sonoma Raceway while trying to dodge birds in this edition of GarageCam.
John Wes Townley cleared to compete at Pocono Raceway
Concord, N.C. (July 26, 2016) – John Wes Townley received medical clearance earlier today to resume racing in NASCAR and ARCA. He will compete in this weekend's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and ARCA events at Pocono Raceway . Townley had been sidelined for the past four weeks while being treated for mild concussion-like symptoms. "I'd like to thank Parker Kligerman, Cole Custer and Brady Boswell for filling in for me," Townley said. "I feel great and I’m looking forward to racing at Pocono this week."