DARLINGTON, S.C. — Sore after rolling over six times during last month’s Xfinity Series race at Talladega Superspeedway, Blaine Perkins didn’t get a chance to see what he had survived until he watched video of it on his phone — as he rode in an ambulance to a Birmingham, Alabama, hospital.
Perkins was kept overnight and released the following day. He is back in a car this weekend for the first time since that wild ride.
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Perkins told NBC Sports on Friday at Darlington Raceway that he was not diagnosed with a concussion but did see a neurologist to be cleared to return. Perkins said he was kept overnight in a hospital to check on some of the bruising he suffered in the incident around where his safety belts were. Perkins proved to be fine and was back in the gym about a week later.
“I think it was probably one or two days there of just trying to feel better, get better,” Perkins said. “Then after that, it was like, ‘OK, I want to get back in the car. When’s the next race?’
“I was calling the doctors up and saying, ‘OK, let’s get it going.’ I’m just really happy to be back in the 02 this weekend.”
He sat out the Dover race and the Xfinity Series was off last weekend while Cup and Trucks raced at Kansas Speedway. That makes this weekend his first chance back in the car for Our Motorsports.
The 23-year-old Perkins called his Talladega accident the biggest of his career.
The incident started when contact sent Dexter Stacey’s car into the inside wall on the backstretch. That led to further contact among other cars in the pack. Perkins was hit by Jade Buford.
The contact turned Perkins’ car sideways, and it began a series of rolls down the backstretch. A tire came off his car and struck the front of Kaz Grala’s car.
“I remember kind of looking at the ground and then everything was kind of over,” Perkins said of his multiple rollovers. “It happened real quick. I was just shocked at how quickly the safety personnel got to me and just trying to get me out of the car as safely and gently as possible. I wanted to get out of the car and let everyone know that I was OK.”
About a week after the accident, he saw the car and saw “how well these things hold up to that kind of a wreck.”
His focus is on this weekend at Darlington Raceway. A mechanical issue forced Perkins to miss qualifying. He will start last in the field.
The Bakersfield, California, native will drive a car with a throwback paint scheme that honors fellow Bakersfield native Kevin Harvick.
“Kevin Harvick is just so well renowned in Bakersfield,” Perkins said. “You go to the gas stations on the street and you see pictures of him everywhere. That’s what I grew up in for 20 years out there seeing and to be able to have a throwback here to his 2003 season with Pay Day (also back as the sponsor) while he’s retiring this year is really special for me.”