The big news this week in NASCAR is the return of Dale Earnhardt Junior, who's getting back on the track this weekend at Martinsville after missing the last two races because of a concussion. And while many fans have their eyes on the Cup Standings, they'll also have their eyes on the 88 car, whose driver is feeling good and is ready to be back in the mix after a lot of sitting around.
"I felt like I could have raced at Kansas for sure and probably ran at Charlotte with no problem and I feel foolish sitting at home feeling OK and not being in the car. It feels really unnatural so I feel good and the doctors say it's OK, I want to be in the car,” Earnhardt said.
And while he's been itching to get back to racing, he knows that taking this time to recover was the right decision.
"I'm glad I did what I did and I'm glad I took the time off and made the choices that I made. They were hard to make but I had to do it. I had to do it. I didn't have a choice. I knew that something wasn't right. You can't layer concussions. It's really dangerous," Junior said.
Although he's not in the Chase hunt, Junior returns to the track at a place where he's yet to win, but has had 10 top-fives and 14 top tens -- including a third-place performance in the Spring.
"I feel like I've been out of the car for a year. It doesn't feel like a couple weeks but I think we can go right to it. I felt good at the test and I like this racetrack and I feel like we can run good here and I want to do a good job over the next 4 weeks. I want us to run hard and I want us to go in to every weekend to try and do what we've been doing all year long," Earnhardt said.
Junior said he's actually going to be wearing a new helmet for Sunday's race but also said the change has been in the works for a while, and it's not a direct result of his concussion.