Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is back.
Hendrick Motorsports announced Thursday that Earnhardt has been cleared to return to racing. The OK came after Earnhardt participated in a private test session on Wednesday at Darlington Raceway that was attended by Charlotte area neurosurgeon Dr. Jerry Petty and representatives of NASCAR.
Dr. Micky Collins, medical director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Sports Medicine Concussion Program, officially cleared Earnhardt to return to racing after consulting with Dr. Petty.
Earnhardt Jr. said he’s back to normal and is thrilled to be able to get back to doing what he loves.
Yesterday was a great day to go to the track and cut some laps! Happy to be back to work. The final box is checked! pic.twitter.com/YETdToYc1Z
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) December 8, 2016
“I feel great, and I’m excited to officially be back,” Earnhardt said in a press release. “I expected things to go really well yesterday, and that’s exactly what happened. Actually getting in a race car was an important final step, and it gives me a ton of confidence going into 2017.
“Thanks to the staff at Darlington for hosting our team and to NASCAR for giving us the opportunity to put a car on the track. I’ll do more testing in January to help knock the rust off. When it’s time to go to Daytona, I’ll be ready.”
Rick Hendrick made note of Earnhardt’s ethic over the past few months.
“Dale deserves so much credit,” Hendrick said. “I’m proud of him for listening to his body and standing up to take responsibility for his health. He’s worked extremely hard and set a terrific example for others. It’s great news as we go into the off-season, and we can’t wait to see him back on the racetrack at Daytona.”
Earnhardt will get back into his No. 88 in an official session for the first time on Feb. 18, 2017. Coverage of that session will be aired live on FOX Sports 1.