Dale Earnhardt Jr. plans to donate his brain to CTE research

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted that he plans to donate his brain to CTE research, following what other athletes, particularly football players, are doing.

Earnhardt tweeted a story Saturday about three former Oakland Raiders pledging their brains to the Boston-based Concussion Legacy Foundation, which is focused on the study, treatment and prevention of the effects of brain trauma in athletes and others.

In response to a fan’s comment on the story, Earnhardt tweeted “I’m gonna donate mine.’’

Earnhardt missed two races during the 2012 Chase after suffering concussion symptoms. He stated then that he suffered a concussion in a crash during testing at Kansas Speedway that wasn’t diagnosed. He suffered concussion symptoms after a last-lap crash at Talladega Superspeedway six weeks later. He wasn’t required to visit the infield care center after the Talladega incident because he drove away from the crash site.

During a press conference at Charlotte Motor Speedway when Earnhardt announced he would not race because of concussion symptoms, he was asked about if long-term health concerns played a role in visiting a neurologist after his Talladega incident. He said: “I want to live a healthy life, so I’m going to make sure that I’m doing the right thing and that’s all I felt like I was doing here. I think if I give myself time to get healed up, I can race for as long as I want to race, and that’s my objective.”

Earnhardt sparked controversy in 2002 when he said he had driven with a concussion for several races that season. NASCAR changed its policy on clearing drivers after crashes after that.

Studies continue on the impact of repeated blows to the head on athletes. The former Raiders who announced plans to donate their brains made the pledge in honor of Ken Stabler, who was found to have the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is believed to cause debilitating memory or mood problems.

Stabler died of colon cancer in July 2015. On a scale of 1 to 4, Stabler had high Stage 3 CTE, the degenerative brain disease believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head, according to a New York Times story that cited Boston University researchers.

The story reported that Boston University researchers have found CTE in 90 of the 94 former NFL players it has examined. Only the brains of players who have requested to have their brains studied or whose families asked for the brains to be studied have been examined.

“The research is in its infancy,” Robert Stern, a professor of neurology and neurosurgery at the Boston University School of Medicine, told The New York Times.

Athletes who have pledged their brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation include Eric Winston, former Cincinnati Bengals offensive lineman who is president of the NFL Players Association, and soccer player Brandi Chastain, whose penalty kick in 1999 sealed the United States’ World Cup victory. And now Earnhardt.

 

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Kansas preview, Kevin Meendering interview

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and continues to preview this weekend’s races at Kansas Speedway.

Marty Snider hosts with Steve Letarte and Landon Cassill from Charlotte.

On today’s show:

  • We’ll react to the penalty handed down to Kyle Larson that makes advancing to the Round of 8 even more challenging.
  • As cut-down day approaches in the Round of 12 for the Cup Series, we’ll look back at drivers who kept their title hopes alive with victories in elimination races.
  • Dillon Welch talks to crew chief Kevin Meendering, who is set to become Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief in 2019.
  • Joey Logano may be racing for a championship, but one of his other main goals is a far more important one: helping the lives of others, especially children. We’ll look at the story behind the Joey Logano Foundation.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Bubba Wallace named to Ebony Power 100

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Bubba Wallace has been named to Ebony Magazine’s Ebony Power 100 for his accomplishments as a NASCAR Cup series driver.

Listed as an “MVP,” Wallace joins other athletes such as Antonio Brown, Stephen Curry and Venus Williams as well as former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama. 

The list was created to recognize leaders of color who have positively impacted their community.

“This is quite an honor to be recognized with others in the African-American community,” Wallace said in a press release. “It’s humbling to join a list of the other star athletes, artists and community and national leaders. I’m just trying to be the best driver that I can be and focus on winning races for Richard Petty Motorsports and our partners. To be recognized for some of our accomplishments this season is an honor and I’d like to thank Ebony for the recognition.”

Wallace gained the honor based on his on track performance early in the year, including a second-place finish in the Daytona 500 and a top-10 finish at Texas Motor Speedway.

His off-track accomplishments also played a role in the selection. Wallace has been a notable influencer on social media. Earlier this year, Facebook posted a “Behind the Wall: Bubba Wallace” docu-series that earned more than five million views.

“We are proud of what Bubba is doing both on and off the track for our race team and our partners,” said Brian Moffitt, CEO of Richard Petty Motorsports, in a press release. “We know that we have something very special with him and he continues to break barriers outside our sport to be a first-class athlete, spokesperson and inspiration to many.”

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K&N East champion to make Truck Series debut at Martinsville

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Tyler Ankrum, who won the NASCAR K&N East Pro Series title on Oct. 6, will make his Camping World Truck Series debut next weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

Ankrum, 17, will drive for DGR-Crosley’s No. 54 truck. Ankrum drove for the team co-owned by David Gilliland in the K&N East series.

Driving the No. 17, Ankrum earned four wins and nine top fives and led the standings for the final 12 races of the season.

The native of San Bernadino, California, had an average finish of 4.8.

Next Saturday’s race will be Ankrum’s second at Martinsville. He competed in a Late Model Stock Car race there in 2014.

“Making my Truck Series debut at Martinsville is huge. So many big names in the sport have made their national series debut at Martinsville,” Ankrum said in a press release. “I’ve been dreaming of this day for so long now, I can’t believe it’s actually happening. It’s going to be really cool having (crew chief) Seth (Smith) and my K&N guys there with me.”

Kyle Larson loses 10 points, car chief suspended for Talladega penalty

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Kyle Larson‘s Cup team has been penalized 10 driver and owner points and loses car chief David Bryant to a one-race suspension for a L1 penalty at Talladega Superspeedway.

Crew chief Chad Johnston was also fined $25,000.

The No. 42 team violated Section 10.9.9.d in the rulebook, which notes “Damaged vehicle repair, regardless of how the damage occurred, is permitted to have original body parts removed or reattached in their original location with fasteners and/or tape only.”

Larson spun with seven laps left in Stage 2 due to a flat tire.

Larson, who finished 11th in Sunday’s race and called it “embarrassing at times”, is now 36 points behind the cutoff spot on the playoff grid, making this weekend’s elimination race at Kansas Speedway a must win for Larson.

This is Bryant’s second suspension this season. He missed two races in May for a rear-window violation at Kansas.

NBC Sports has asked Chip Ganassi Racing if it will appeal;there was no immediate response from the team.

John Klausmeier, crew chief on Aric Almirola‘s No. 10 Ford, was fined $10,000 for an unsecured lug nut on the race-winning car.

NASCAR also issued three fines to crew chiefs in the Camping World Truck Series for the same L1 penalty.

Chad Kendrick (Austin Hill‘s No. 02 Chevrolet), Graham Bruce (Stewart Friesen‘s No. 52 Chevrolet) and Joel Shear Jr. (Johnny Sauter‘s No. 21 Chevrolet) were fined $5,000 for violating Section 20.4, which notes “Air is not allowed to pass from one area of the interior of the vehicle to another or to the outside of the vehicle.”

NASCAR also issued an indefinite suspension to Christopher Justin Chase for violating Sections 12.1.a and 2.11.a in the rulebook, a behavioral level violation.