So, on Sunday, we had Matt Kenseth earn his second win of the season, and his second straight at New Hampshire. It was a solid run, and he needed to hold off the field on many late restarts in order to do so.
At the same time, entering the weekend, the big talk was the No. 88.
Dale Earnhardt Jr, already having a tough season statistically but still theoretically in the Chase based on points, suddenly shocked NASCAR by saying he was sitting out New Hampshire because of concussion-like symptoms he was suffering.
It’s not the first time he’s done this, as back in 2012, he stepped out of his car for two Chase races citing the same issues.
One automatically would think that with all the safety built into the driver’s compartment for these cars, from the custom-fitting seats, to the helmets, belts and head support around the helmet, how can he suffer from a concussion?
The truth is, it’s surprising many others aren’t speaking about it.
Junior had multiple hard wrecks this season, including all three restrictor plate races this season. Even with the five-point seatbelts, plus the HANS device attached to the helmet, a driver’s head still bounces off the sides of the supports on either side of the seat, and also will jolt forward from the G-forces of impact. The brain still bounces around in the skull, since its surrounded by fluid, basically floating in the skull like ice in a glass of water or soda.
The brain will feel that impact, and for Junior it started with headaches and dizziness. Thinking it was allergies, Earnhardt Jr. went to his doctor and got medication. Symptoms didn’t get better, and then went deeper into what it could be.
A trip to his neurologist, the same one from his previous concussion case, found the symptoms, and told him to consider taking time away from the track to recover properly.
Junior decided his health meant more than his ride, and it was Alex Bowman, who drives for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series, taking over the No. 88 Chevrolet on Sunday. Although tough, Junior’s fellow competitors understood that him making the decision to step out was big, and gets awareness out that even though the NFL may be the one more recognized right now for concussion protocol, NASCAR has a similar protocol. Junior is uncertain when he will get back in the car, and the team is taking it week-by-week at this point as to how to approach each weekend.
There is, however, a plan in place for next weekend’s action. But, “Plan B” will only get put into play once the team hears from Junior and his doctors.
Should the “Plan B” scenario be put into play, look for a special report this week.
RESULTS: 1-Kenseth 2-Stewart 3-Logano 4-Harvick 5-Biffle 6-McMurray 7-Newman 8-Kyle Busch 9-Hamlin 10-Stenhouse Jr.
NOTABLE FINISHES: 12-Johnson 15-Keselowski 16-Truex Jr. 20-Edwards 22-Kurt Busch
CAUTIONS: 7 for 36 laps. Lap 37-40 (Competition caution); 101-108 (#34 Spin-BS); 220-227 (Debris-T3); 265-268 (Debris-T3); 274-277 (#88 Accident-T1); 282-284 (#2, 22 and 41 Accident-FS); 286-290 (#19, 31 and 42 Accident-BS).
LEAD CHANGES: 13 among 6 drivers. J. Johnson 1; Kyle Busch 2-36; M. Truex Jr 37; Kyle Busch 38-88; M. Truex Jr 89-171; Kyle Busch 172-182; M. Truex Jr 183; B. Keselowski 184; Kyle Busch 185-220; M. Truex Jr 221-257; M. Kenseth 258-264; M. Truex Jr 265; D. Hamlin 266-270; M. Kenseth 271-301.
TIME OF RACE: 2 Hrs, 57 Mins, 53 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 107.416 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 1.982 Seconds
CHASE GRID: 1. Keselowski*-622 (Points), 4 (Wins); 2. Kyle Busch*-556, 3; 3. Edwards*-587, 2; 4. Kenseth-521, 2; 5. Johnson-514, 2; 6. Harvick-636, 1; 7. Kurt Busch-602, 1; 8. Logano-571, 1; 9. Truex Jr-540, 1; 10. Hamlin-505, 1; 11. Stewart-287, 1; 12. Elliott, -137 (From 1st-Harvick); 13. Newman, -139; 14. Dillon, -148; 15. McMurray, -162; 16. Earnhardt Jr, -175.
*Officially clinched spot in 2016 Chase