UPDATE: Earnhardt Jr will have two more test this week before final decision is made on his return for Martinsville. Rick Hendrick came back on ESPN during the race to report that Earnhardt Jr will have more tests over the next few days including an impact test. The final decision on Earnhardt Jr’s return should be available Tuesday afternoon.
Rick Hendrick confirmed on ESPN NASCAR Countdown that Dale Earnhardt Jr will return to drive the No.88 car next weekend in Martinsville. Earnhardt Jr has been sidelined the last two races with a concussion. Earnhardt Jr suffered two concussions within the last six weeks and if he suffered a third one, it could be catastrophic.Regan Smith has filled in for Earnhardt Jr in Charlotte and he will be driving the car this weekend in Kansas. Smith will likely be in the No.51 car for James Finch next week at Martinsville. Smith was let go by Furniture Row Racing after the Talladega race and he was scheduled to race the No.51 car for the remainder of the season. But after news of Earnhardt Jr being sidelined broke, Smith was contacted about driving the No.88 car. Smith had engine issues last weekend at Charlotte and he is getting ready to race this afternoon in Kansas.
Earnhardt Jr won’t be holding up a championship trophy this season but he’ll have four more chances at getting back to victory lane. Earnhardt Jr could drive a little cautiously to avoid suffering another concussion but don’t expect him to hold back.