The Frontstretch: Voices from the Cheapseats: Repercussions of a Jr. Concussion by Jeff Meyer -- Thursday October 11, 2012

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Voices from the Cheapseats: Repercussions of a Jr. Concussion

Voices from the Cheapseats · Jeff Meyer · Thursday October 11, 2012


In light of Dale Jr.’s shocking announcement yesterday, there are a few observations and/or questions that I’d like to throw out there.

As I read through the transcript of the news conference, the first thing that caught my eye were a few statements that seemed a bit off. Well duh, you say, the man has a concussion! Yeah, that’s very funny and all, but here is what struck me as strange.

“So I took it upon myself to — I contacted my sister, and we talked about seeing a neurosurgeon, and we ended up getting steered toward Dr. Petty.”

OK that is great! The man (or his sister) has the sense to get some referrals. After all, nothing but the best for a man of his stature. As I read on, this statement seemed strange.

“I trust his opinion. That’s why I went to see him. He’s been a good friend of mine for a long time and has helped me through a lot of injuries before,…”

Excuse me, but if he is such a good friend and a neurosurgeon to boot, why would you need to be ‘steered’ to him? I mean, wouldn’t he be the first one you’d ask? If I were good friends with say, Tiger Woods, and I needed some help with my golf game, I think that’s where I go for advice. Just sayin’. It’s all probably nothing, but as I said, it just came off as weird to me. Blame it on a law enforcement background!

Second of all, is it just me (and you need to read the transcript for this part) or did trying to follow Dr. Petty’s comments positively drip with the oration style of Brian France? What is it with rich people and their social skills? As you ponder that, lets get on to some other thoughts.

If you are reading this, I’m sure you are aware of Jr.’s comments on Sunday following the big crash. Basically what he was saying, and was lauded for it by everyone for finally speaking up to NASCAR, was that he was sick and tired of this pack racing produced by restrictor plates and would rather sit out a race at Daytona or Talladega it this kinda crap was going to continue.

Could Jr. really be sitting out the next two races as a way to make his point about pack racing and big crashes?

OK, here’s the thing, no one in their right mind believes that Jr. would actually sit a big race out like the Daytona 500. NASCAR knows that too. So basically, what he said on Sunday was an idle threat. However, what if Jr. wanted to somehow put some weight behind his threat? How would you go about that? He is, after all, THE face of NASCAR. Even so, NASCAR isn’t about to do one damn thing to change the status quo. How does Jr. do it and do it in a diplomatic way? He essentially gives up on the Chase!

Think about it, after Sunday’s crash, Jr.’s chances of winning the Cup became about as good as Kyle Busch’s. He’s got nothing to lose by sitting out a couple of Chase races. NASCAR on the other hand, has it’s star player say “Hey, that last crash kinda re-injured me, I gotta sit out for a bit.” We all know that the only thing NASCAR will listen to is the sound of less money flowing into their coffers and this is an ingenious way for Jr. to maybe, just maybe, hit them where it hurts and possibly force them to make what ever changes need to be made to prevent the ‘Big One’ that NASCAR counts on no less than four times a year. I dunno, maybe I’m over-thinking it all.

One thing I do know for certain…if Dale Earnhardt, Jr. were in second or even third place in the standings right now, this press conference NEVER would have happened! Who’s gonna disagree with that?

Here are a few more things I thought of while on this whole subject…

How can the medical/coaching staff in college and professional football be so good at seeing a concussion almost instantly and take a player off the field, yet no one in NASCAR can?

And speaking of ‘The Big One’…ever notice how every year, four times a year, everybody always hollers someone is going to get killed! Yet no one ever does, even though the crashes get more and more spectacular? Granted they’ve tamed down a bit now that NASCAR got rid of the wing but still. We all know who the last person to get killed in a plate race was and that was not in a ‘Big One’! That man would still be alive today if only one simple safety device had been MANDATED BEFORE he died.

I hope Regan Smith wins!

Stay off the wall (and if you don’t, get yourself checked by an NFL guy!)

Jeff Meyer

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Richard Petersen
10/12/2012 04:26 AM

First off, I love this article, and hope he gets well soon. It will be different not seeing an Earnhardt in the race for the next 2 weeks. Secondly, I feel it is time for Dale Jr. to hitch-hike out of Hendrick Motorsports, and here is why. JR Nation (most of them anyways) don’t realize the talent he does have. But to tell you the truth, being at HMS, he isn’t able to show that. That being, is he has too much on his plate and is living up to expectations that he is not use to. Hendrick Motorsports is a top rated team that everyone is trying to beat and Dale Jr, to be honest, is just barely trying to keep up with the rest of his Hendrick teammates. I mean, for crying out loud, it tool Dale Jr. four years or so, just to grab his second career win for Hendrick Motorsport. Quite frankly, I hate to say this being a Dale Jr. fan, but it is probably going to take him another while for his next win. Kasey Kahne is in his first year with Hendrick Motorsports. It took Kasey just one year to get two victories. And I might add, is higher in points too. This is something us JR Nation should thing about. I really wish Dale never left DEI, I really do.

10/12/2012 09:29 AM

jr has so little self-confidence in himself that he has to call his sister FIRST, to discuss not feeling well to go to the doc?

it appears he’s been racing several week at less than 100%. hence his performance issues?

all the media has reported that mris are clear and everything looks normal. i had a concussion from a car crash years and years ago, head hit windshield when i was hit broadside. to this day, 35 yrs later when i still complain of chronic headaches that injury is discussed.

remember his dad raced once and passed out on pace laps and blamed it on a mix of advil and tomatoes he had eaten before race.

what concerns me is look at ricky craven…..ultimately concussions took him out of the sport. be interesting to see what happens in 2 weeks.

the fact that it was noted that gordon said he wouldn’t say he wasn’t feeling well if he is higher in points shows the pressure on these guys to perform. as with gordon, jr has had a number of wrecks over the years that were violent enough to have people wondering.

i guess it just needs to be decided, what is better, jr fueling the coffers of na$car, or his health or life.

10/12/2012 09:40 AM

Just a note on Ricky Craven, His concussion issues that caused him to miss races were in 1997-98. His best career years (results wise) happened after this event. (2001-2003) Reading between the lines, they have all had them. Dale Jr. is just the first to admit it.

Bill B
10/12/2012 10:05 AM

I posted a (less articulate) comment on another website yesterday pondering the same thing. Did Jr do this to to force NASCAR to do something about restrictor plate racing. This is bad PR for NASCAR and bad for NASCAR’s bottom line economically. He was mathematically taken out of the chase last week and he knew he had symptoms of a concussion, why not put some weight behind his post Talladega comments.

10/12/2012 10:52 AM

So you think there was something “off” about Dale Jr’s press conference. It appears to me the only thing “off” is you. I understood the reasoning behind Dale’s PC and Dr Petty’s statements concerning how he came to his decision not to clear him to race. Perhaps you don’t have sufficient healthy brain cells to understand a completely understandable PC. With that said, you are inferring that somehow Dale chose to skip trying to improve his standing in the chase and instead finagle NASCAR in changing the RP racing. Dale Jr’s integrity is unquestionable, Your’s is debatable.

Oh, FYI, if you really listened to Dr Petty, much of determining a concussion comes directly from the patient, not a test. Football players are tested, then a series of questions are asked of them. The answers given by the player usually determines whether or not the player has a concussion.

Guess you don’t understand that either.

Andy D
10/12/2012 11:12 AM

I had the same question about “being steered” when I read the transcript. I considerd the remark to be glad handing, but maybe it was the result of a concussion-fogged mind.

Junior has already won the 500 once and it’s not like he’ll ever be close enough to a championship that he’ll miss not getting those points. I was hoping that he would send a message by skipping the event. We already know from Talladega 1969 that a driver boycott won’t work, but the most popular driver would bring a lot of press to bear on NASCAR management.

Bill B
10/12/2012 12:43 PM

Try to think of it like this. Fact, Jr has a concussion. If he was at the top of the standings he’d be driving with a concussion as long as he could walk (just like all the other drivers). However he’s not at the top of the standings and has a concussion. Why not make a statement? Why not press NASCAR? If that is what he’s doing then he is standing up for what’s right and for all drivers’ health. God knows the drivers need someone to look after their best interest because NASCAR sure as hell won’t.

10/12/2012 03:23 PM

While I think him purposely sitting out a race because of his feelings towards Talladega might be a little far fetched, I believe Nascar is getting exactly what they deserve in the end. And it goes 2 fold. 1.) for putting all their eggs in the Dale Jr. basket as their savior, and 2) the fact that 25 drivers could have been hurt or killed on Sunday and Nascar could care less because it sells tickets. Now their most popular driver is hurt because of it.

I like this article except at the end. Just because nobody got killed doesn’t make plate racing right.

And Dale Sr. died because of his stubbornness. Had he been wearing a full faced helmet, I firmly beleive he would still be with us today.

10/12/2012 04:45 PM

Whether or not this is a ploy by Jr to show NASCAR and the fans how dangers RP racing is, I’ve been saying for years that NASCAR needs to subtract each driver’s 2 worst finishes from their points total each year. Of course, with the Chase in place, that would be the 2 worst in the first 26 races (because no way are they getting rid of the Chase). In the Chase, I’m not sure if anyone would ever agree to dropping the lowest points race or any driver would willingly sit any race out while still in contention for a Championship.

But built in with dropping the 2 lowest points finishes would be the option for a driver to take one or 2 weeks off when injured to properly heal!! (NOT just take one or 2 weeks off for a vacation with the wife and kids, but actually a doctor-diagnosed injury or illness)

It would suck to not have my favorite driver in the race, but it would suck even more if he had to “retire” prematurely due to repeated head injuries….or worse.

Jeff Meyer - FS Staff
10/12/2012 07:40 PM

To Steve,
Please dont misunderstand me. I am NOT defending RP racing. Any long time (well not even that long really, as I say it all the time it comes up)reader of mine knows, I say get rid of the plates altogether. Racing is about finding the limits of machine and man. Just because you CAN go into the corner at 230 doesn’t mean you SHOULD! I was just mentioning a thought that had occured to me.

And Pepper, the funny thing is,you only think I don’t understand the thinking behind the thinking of Dale and the doc when in fact, you are the one thinking erroneously!

(Put THAT in your Brian France quote book!)

10/13/2012 09:44 AM

Very interesting, Makes one stop and think doesn’t it? The thought went thru my mind ,zi wonder if Dale Jr——— NAH but —— good Blog Jeff ! You got a lot of people thinking. You dont’t think maybe NASCAR might see——- NAH! But maybe they might ?

10/13/2012 10:30 AM

Actually this story hasn’t gotten that much attention on sports radio.

Just goes to show how far the sport has dropped in terms of importance.

12 years ago this was the fastest growing spectator sport. Now it’s a slow dying sport. The Chase is not bringing people in.


Contact Jeff Meyer

Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

Voices From The Cheap Seats: The Tale Of Two Tires
BSNews! Bruton’s Plans Extend Beyond Bristol’s Track
Top Ten Reasons Fans Failed To Show Up At Bristol Sunday
BSNews! NASCAR CEO Given "Special" Award Amidst Lavish Fanfare
Fan Coun-ci-What? Just What Is It That NASCAR Wants To Study?

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