Dale Earnhardt Jr. nears final clearance from concussion

ByBob Pockrass ESPN logo
Saturday, November 19, 2016

HOMESTEAD, Fla. --Rick Hendrick expectsDale Earnhardt Jr.to receive his final clearance from doctors in the next six weeks, which will allow him to return to Sprint Cup racing in February.

"Sometime in December, the doctor is going to give him final clearance, and then we'll get him in a car," Hendrick said Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. "He feels great. Everything is on track."

Earnhardt, who will miss his 18th straight race this weekend as he recovers from vision and balance issues caused by a concussion suffered in June, has repeatedly said that his rehabilitation and recovery have been on track for a February return.

NASCAR will allow Earnhardt to participate in a private test to allow doctors to approve his return to racing.

"Every step that we supposedly need to go through, we've gone through. I don't see anything holding us back," Hendrick said. "I think we've just got a couple of more hurdles."

Earnhardt has been replaced by Jeff Gordon and Alex Bowman over the second half of the season. Bowman led a race-high 194 laps last week at Phoenix before an accident on a late restart while battling for the lead.

"I'm so happy because our cars are so good," Earnhardt said Monday on "The Dale Jr. Download" podcast. "I'm going to get into that thing next year, and it's going to be as good or better than when I got out of it.

"I feel like a very lucky guy in that regard. ... Man, I'm really looking forward to getting back on the track, cutting some laps and just being a driver. I miss it, especially as I am getting more and more healthy and more confident in my health. I miss it more and more."