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NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. could be back on the racetrack as soon as this weekend after he was sidelined for two weeks after a set of concussions.
NASCAR tweeted on Tuesday afternoon that he had been medically cleared to return to NASCAR competition.
A released stated that Earnhardt will be back in the No. 88 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports this weekend at Martinsville Speedway.
"Per NASCAR policy, NASCAR's medical liaison office received official notification of his clearance to resume racing late Tuesday morning," a statement said. "Earnhardt announced Oct. 11 that he would miss two races, Charlotte and Kansas, while he was recovering from a concussion."
The last concussion occurred following the 25-car pileup on the last lap of the race in Talladega.
Because he was able to drive his car away from the accident, Earnhardt was not required to go to the care center for an examination at the time.
The concussion diagnosis was made in Charlotte several days after the race.
Earnhardt admitted that the injury came on top of a previously unreported concussion he received Aug. 29 during a tire test at Kansas.
"[After Kansas] I knew something was just not quite right but I decided to push through it; I've had a concussion before, and I knew kind of what was dealing with," Earnhardt said.
"I felt pretty good for a week or two, at least 80 or 90 percent. By the time I got to Talladega I was 100 percent. It was an odd kind of hit; the car spun around real quick and it disoriented me. I knew as soon as it happened that I had reinjured myself, for lack of a better way to describe it. I knew I had kind of regressed. It was not even half of the impact I had at Kansas, but it was enough to cause me some concern."
Earnhardt said that although he knew he had "reinjured" himself at Talladega, he waited a few days before getting checked out to see if the symptoms would clear.
When his headaches persisted, Earnhardt said he first called his sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, and then Dr. Jerry Petty – a neurosurgeon who serves on the International Council on Motorsports and acts as neurosurgeon for the Carolina Panthers.
Dr. Petty said he first performed an impact test and then an MRI on Earnhardt, and both tests came back normal, indicating there was no permanent damage. However, based on the recent concussion at Kansas and the persistence of headaches, Dr. Petty said he couldn't in good conscience clear Earnhardt to race.
After the concussion diagnosis, Dr. Petty said Earnhardt would need four to five days without headaches and perhaps an on-track test before being cleared to drive.