NASCAR on NBC analyst Steve Letarte, who was Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s crew chief when Earnhardt missed two races for concussion-like symptoms in 2012, said Earnhardt’s decision to skip this weekend’s race after consulting a neurological specialist sets “a great example” for other drivers and athletes.
“Him taking this stance is not only a stance for himself … but perhaps it will give himself, other NASCAR drivers, perhaps other drivers in the country, young kids that race all over the country, young kids that play other sports, when you’re not feeling well, Jeff (Burton) said earlier on the show, the only person who knows you don’t feel well is you,” Letarte said on NASCAR America. “There isn’t an exact science for concussions, so it’s very important to speak up, and I think he’s setting a great example.”
Letarte also acknowledged the challenge Earnhardt’s team and crew chief Greg Ives will face with having a different driver, Alex Bowman, in the No. 88 car this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
“I think the most important thing for this team and Greg Ives is, what I’m going to say it not possible but it’s his goal and that means it has to be business as usual,” Letarte said. “I think it’s fair to the race team to approach this like any other race, it’s fair to Dale. The best thing Greg Ives and Alex Bowman and this entire 88 team can do is go to the racetrack and run well because I think that takes pressure off Dale Earnhardt Jr. so he doesn’t feel like he’s let the team down, let his fans down.
“Greg is going to have to learn a new driver in Alex Bowman and Alex is going to have to go out and do the best he can do.”