As Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career winds down, he’s trying to impart some wisdom on the sport’s next generation of stars.
Earnhardt told reporters Thursday he gave Aric Almirola some advice following the Richard Petty Motorsports driver’s scary crash Saturday at Kansas Speedway that fractured Almirola’s T5 vertebrae, according to FOX Sports. Earnhardt’s suggestion to Almirola simply was to not rush his return to racing.
“He’s smart. Aric’s a really sharp kid, married, got kids,” Earnhardt said Thursday, via FOX Sports. “The doctors told him how lucky he is, how easily that could have went the other way with him had he gotten some spinal-cord damage… how easily that could have happened to him.”
Of all current NASCAR drivers, Earnhardt is among the most qualified to give his input on Amirola’s situation. The 42-year-old missed the majority of last season with a concussion, something that factored into his decision to hang up his helmet after this season.
Still, he acknowledged allowing the recovery process to run its course will be easier said than done for Almirola.
“I think it was easy for me because I saved my money, I was near the end of my career, I didn’t really have a whole lot to lose by taking my time,” Earnhardt told reporters. “Now for Aric, and guys who are young and still feel like they’ve got 10 years or more, it’s different. Aric is still grinding and trying to get a grip on his role in the sport as a driver, and his position.”
Earnhardt added he was confident Almirola wouldn’t jeopardize his health to get back behind the wheel of the No. 43 before he’s ready.
That might be true, though he apparently is having a little trouble listening to his doctors. They told him not to walk down the runway of a charity event for the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation, but he convinced them to let him, according to ESPN.
We guess we’ll let that bit of defiance slide, since it was for a good cause.
Thumbnail photo via Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY Sports Images