By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service
Distributed by The Sports Xchange
While Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned praise for his forthright handling of a concussion after Sunday's race at Talladega, Jeff Gordon, Earnhardt's teammate at Hendrick Motorsports, said he may not have taken the same path.
Earnhardt sought medical attention for his second concussion in six weeks after failing to do so for the first concussion, sustained Aug. 29 in an accident during testing at Kansas Speedway. Prominent neurologist Dr. Jerry Petty diagnosed the issue this week and opted to hold Earnhardt out at least the next two races, at Charlotte and Kansas.
Earnhardt, who qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup for the second straight season, starts his enforced hiatus 11th in the standings, 51 points behind leader Brad Keselowski.
Realistically, Earnhardt would have been a long shot for the championship. If he were closer to the lead, would he have been as forthcoming with his condition?
Gordon said that, personally, he wouldn't seek medical attention with the title on the line.
"Honestly, I hate to say this, but no, I wouldn't," Gordon admitted. "That's why I say we all play a part in this. If I have a thought at the championship, there's two races to go, my head is hurting, and I just came through a wreck, and I am feeling signs of it, but I'm still leading the points, or second in the points, I'm not going to say anything.
"I'm sorry. You know, that's the competitor in me, and probably many other guys. And, that's to a fault. That's not the way it should be. It's something that most of us, I think, would do. I think that's what gets a lot of us in trouble."
BUSCH FULL OF INFORMATION
If you thought Kurt Busch was going to a single-car team, think again -- sort of.
Busch recently signed on with Furniture Row Racing, a single-car operation based in Denver, Colo., but Furniture Row has a strong alliance with Richard Childress Racing as a customer for engines, chassis and technical support.
Busch will run the next six races with Furniture Row, having replaced Regan Smith after last Sunday's event at Talladega.
"The basic core concept is just to get familiar with everything, communication, the process on how the team operates through some of their sequences of changes with the car," said Busch, who qualified 21st for Saturday night's Bank of America 500 at Charlotte in his first competitive outing in the No. 78 Chevrolet. "All the information that I have from my days at Penske, my days at Roush and then working with some of the Hendrick guys (during his tenure at Phoenix Racing) this year -- all that information I need to be able to digest and give to them the right way.
"It's all just what I have in my head. You're not really able to take your trade secrets as far as paper. But what I have in my mind and what I've done over the last 18 months is definitely relevant, and I need to translate that to these guys. Most importantly, it's fitting in with them and finding out how they have done things, getting in with the RCR system on how they communicate between the haulers. (Kevin) Harvick is a teammate, (Paul) Menard is a teammate and Jeff Burton is a teammate today, so I've got to go around and shake hands with those guys as well."
ENGINE CHANGE FOR NEWMAN
Early in Friday's second practice session, Ryan Newman reported that his No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet was "blowing up." The team subsequently confirmed that Newman's car would require an engine change.
The crew began work immediately in the Cup garage, but the engine change consumed the final 50 minutes of practice, and Newman got no laps on the new engine. On top of that, Newman will lose his third-place starting spot because of the engine change and will start Saturday night's race from the rear of the field.
"We started off in Happy Hour to a long run, and we got about six laps into it, and it started tightening up," said Tony Gibson, Newman's crew chief. "So he shut it off and came in, and there is definitely something big wrong.
"It's too bad when you've got the track position, but that's part of it, and we'll get after it."
Kyle Busch led final practice at 188.383 mph, followed by Regan Smith, subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Chevrolet.