NASCAR changes concussion policy

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) -- NASCAR is taking steps to keep drivers with concussions off the track, after Dale Earnhardt Jr. revealed he drove in several races while unable to fully concentrate or communicate with his crew chief. From now on,...

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) -- NASCAR is taking steps to keep drivers with concussions off the track, after Dale Earnhardt Jr. revealed he drove in several races while unable to fully concentrate or communicate with his crew chief.

From now on, doctors at infield care centers may require a driver to undergo a CT scan if they suspect the driver has a concussion, NASCAR president Mike Helton said Sunday.

If the CT scan reveals a concussion, Helton said, a driver will not be allowed to compete until he obtains a medical release.

CART, the Indy Racing League and the NFL have similar policies already in place.

Helton also pulled aside Earnhardt, the pole winner for Sunday's Protection One 400 at Kansas Speedway, to discuss the issue after the morning drivers' meeting.

"Most of what he said is between him and me, but he did tell me that I could have handled it better," Earnhardt said.

Earnhardt got a concussion in a crash April 28 at California Speedway but hid it from the public -- and NASCAR -- until last week.

He said he did not report it to doctors immediately after the crash, partly because he was more concerned about an injured ankle and partly because he had had concussions before and wasn't worried that this one might be serious.

Earnhardt also was worried that if he made the concussion public, it might have kept him from racing.

Jeff Burton, who won Saturday's Busch Series race, said this week that he once hid a concussion and qualified for a race.

Although Earnhardt blames the concussion for his subpar season, on Sunday he again played down its severity and insisted he was never a danger to himself or any other driver.

"Even at 80 percent, I'm still better than a lot of the other guys out there," he said, joking.

-nascar-

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About this article
Series Automotive , NASCAR
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Mike Helton