By Jared Turner
Appearing at a press conference Sunday afternoon at Darlington Raceway just two days after his team announced he would miss the rest of the season, Dale Earnhardt Jr. admitted to not being physically up to the task of competing in that night’s race. Junior, of course, has been out of action since mid-July due to the lingering effects of a concussion suffered at Michigan International Speedway in June and then re-aggravated at Daytona on July 4 weekend. If you listened to Junior speak on Sunday, it was obvious that NASCAR’s 13-time most popular driver wants to return to his No. 88 Chevrolet next February for Daytona Speedweeks. But the reality of the situation is that he may not be ready. And the even harsher reality is that he may never be ready. Having suffered at least four concussions over the course of his Sprint Cup Series career, Junior is far more prone to suffer a concussion than a driver who’s never had one. Even if he heals completely from this latest setback and receives medical clearance to return, he’ll have to deal with the nagging – and, yes, somewhat frightening – uncertainty of what another concussion could mean for his future both in the sport and beyond it.