Dale Earnhardt Jr., one of the most beloved NASCAR racers in the sport, will not be racing in the remainder of the 2016 season.
The 41-year-old driver was not cleared to compete for the rest of the season, due to ongoing medical issues from a concussion.
“I wish I could return to the No. 88 team this season,” Earnhardt said in a press release. “To say I’m disappointed doesn’t begin to describe how I feel, but I know this is the right thing for my long-term health and career. I’m 100 percent focused on my recovery, and I will continue to follow everything the doctors tell me. They’re seeing good progress in my test results, and I’m feeling that progress physically. I plan to be healthy and ready to compete at Daytona in February. I’m working toward that.”
Jeff Gordon and Alex Bowman will drive the No. 88 car in the twelve remaining races this season. Although many fans are sure to be disappointed about the decision, his team says that it’s the best choice for his longterm health.
“I know how hard Dale has worked and how frustrating this is for him,” Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports, explained in a statement. “He wants to be back, and we want him back, but we want it to be for the long haul. We’ve had incredible support from everyone involved with the team, including all of our sponsors. They’ve put Dale’s health first every step of the way.”