NASCAR America: Examining the issue of Concussions

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NASCAR on NBC reporter Nate Ryan’s multi-part series about concussions debuts on Thursday’s NASCAR America. That show will air at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Ryan sat down with several people, including Dr. Robert Cantu, whose duties include his role as co-director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at the Boston University School of Medicine, senior advisor to the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee, and consultant to numerous NFL, NHL and NBA teams. Cantu explained concussions and what kind of an impact they can have on athletes.

Concussions and their symptoms have impacted NASCAR this summer with both John Wes Townley and Dale Earnhardt Jr. missing races. Earnhardt has missed the past five Sprint Cup races because of ocular imbalance issues.

Hendrick Motorsports has stated that an announcement could come Wednesday afternoon on Earnhardt’s status for this weekend’s race at Michigan International Speedway. If Earnhardt is not cleared by doctors to run this weekend, Alex Bowman will drive the No. 88 car at Michigan. Jeff Gordon is unavailable because of a prior commitment.

Following a preview of Ryan’s report, NASCAR America’s Dale Jarrett, Ray Evernham and Steve Letarte discussed the issue. Evernham recounted how a severe concussion ended his driving career. Jarrett recounted a concussion in a crash at Kansas Speedway in 2001.

“The one that I had in 2001 from Kansas affected me for somewhere around nine or 10 years in decision-making, not to the point I couldn’t focus and do things that Dale Jr. is having trouble with, but it affected decision-making for me for that period of time,” Jarrett said.