Earnhardt ‘freaked out' watching practice post-concussion

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A serious concussion continues to cause frightening side effects for retired NASCAR driver and Mooresville native Dale Earnhardt Jr.

While he doesn’t drive around the track at 200 mph anymore, Earnhardt is still around the sport.

The concussion issues that weighed heavily on Earnhardt's decision to retire are still causing him problems

Earnhardt said in a recent podcast that he freaked out while watching NASCAR drivers' practice.

"Something weird happened on Saturday and I ended up calling my doctor," Earnhardt said.

More than a year after suffering a concussion, Earnhardt is still feeling the effects.

Last month, he watched a practice at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia and while he was standing feet from where the cars were whizzing by, he started to feel nauseous.

“And so I said, ‘I got to get away from these cars. I’m too close.’ And it reminded me a bit of what I was dealing with my concussion.”

That wasn’t the only thing that triggered symptoms for Earnhardt.

“We climbed up on top of the 13-hauler and as soon as we got up on top of it, I said, ‘Steve, I got to get down.’”

Earnhardt said it took about 30 minutes for nausea and balance problems to go away.

“I got really freaked out,” he said.

Earnhardt suffered several concussions throughout his career. The latest concussion in 2016 forced him to miss most of that NASCAR season

He underwent a unique recovery posting Instagram videos showing the driver walking backward in the dark with disco lights to help with his vision and balance.

“When your head heals from something like that, (it’s not going to) be fine your brain has to relearn to walk,” Earnhardt said. “Relearn to do things.”

Earnhardt's doctor was reassuring.

“My doctors, like, ‘Man, nothing to worry about,’” Earnhardt said.

The doctor told him when issues like that arise, he should wait until he feels better, then go right back and do it again to help his brain deal with it.

Earnhardt said during the podcast that for decades, he's been behind the wheel of the race cars zipping around the track.

He thinks the different perspective is what triggered the symptoms.

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