Dale Earnhardt Jr. wondered what the heck was going on when he went to watch practice at Martinsville on Saturday.
Junior went to the track with his colleagues from NBC and went with Steve Letarte to the inside of turn three, a viewing spot that feels like its right next to the track. On his Dale Jr. Download podcast, Junior said the proximity to the cars made him feel similar effects to what he experienced in 2016 when recovering from a concussion.
Junior bailed on watching from the corner and went up to his old team’s hauler — after realizing he was on a hauler sponsored by a rival insurance agency — to continue watching practice. He said his symptoms lasted approximately 30 minutes before subsiding.
He then called the doctor who had treated him for his concussion issues when he got home.
“My doctor explained that my vestibular system had never been in that situation before,” Junior said. “And I got to thinking that yeah, I had never been down in the corner watching cars practice. Never have. Never been there since I’ve been a kid. Never done that in years — since I’ve been in the car. When I was out of the car I was never standing 25 feet away from them watching practice.”
“So that was a real extreme environment to be in and it made me trip out. Gave me some symptoms and stuff that reminded me of the illness I had a couple years ago with the head issues.”
Junior has previously detailed the excruciating experiences he had while trying to return to feeling normal throughout 2016. As part of his recovery, he said he was told to experience new and unfamiliar situations as often as possible to re-acclimatize his brain. And he got that advice again from his Martinsville experience.
“But my doctor’s like, you know what you should have done? As soon as you started feeling better you should have gone right back down there,” Junior said. “Got right back in it.”
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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