Popular driver says risk of head injury makes you think and estimates shes sustained at least a dozen concussions over her career
Danica Patrick reckons she’s probably sustained a dozen concussions over the course of her career and says she would leave motor racing if doctors said her health was at risk.
On Wednesday, before Sundays Daytona 500, the popular Patrick said she had become more aware of the health risks because of the injury sustained by Dale Earnhardt Jr last season. Earnhardt stepped away from Nascar in the second half of last year to battle symptoms caused by concussion.
Patrick, 34, said: I’ve had concussions. Every time you crash, you have a concussion on a varying degree. When [Earnhardt] said something about having 12 concussions, I’m like, I’m sure I’ve had 12 concussions. … It makes you think, for sure.
She also said she would leave the sport without hesitation if doctors said it was becoming detrimental to her health.
Patrick said: If there was someone that told me, or I hope any other driver if you have another wreck, you could have a serious problem, then they would [choose to] be out. I would be out because I love what I do, but I love lots of other things and I also love life. Im too young to have it be over.
Earnhardt returns to Nascar on Sunday, starting from the No2 position. He said comparing head injuries in motor racing with other sports was apples and oranges but revealed he did ask his doctor, Micky Collins, the tough questions.
The 42-year-old said: I don’t really worry too much about it. The sports are a little bit different how they are [with] the frequency of contact and impacts; they’re a little bit different. I don’t want to minimize this or that. Its just apples and oranges as far as how they experience and I’ve experienced it. I’m not an expert. My doctor is [an expert], and when I have concerns or questions, I go to him.
He continued: I say: Whats going on? What do you think about this? Am I in danger? Im 42 years old. If you want me to quit racing, I’ll quit racing today. Id like to keep racing if I’m able to keep racing. He gives me that confidence in our conversations.
Nascar has updated its concussion protocol for the new season. Under the new rules, if a driver’s car suffer damage that causes it to enter the garage or go behind the pit wall, the driver must visit the infield care center to be evaluated.