NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

        === Earnhardt Jr. medically cleared to race at Martinsville ===
 Concord,  NC  (Sports Network)  - Dale  Earnhardt Jr.  will resume his driving
 duties   in  the  No.  88  Hendrick  Motorsports  Chevrolet  this  weekend  at
 Martinsville Speedway after receiving medical clearance on Tuesday.
 Earnhardt  Jr.,  who  is NASCAR's  most  popular  driver  and  one of  the  12
 competitors  in this  year's Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, was forced
 to  miss the  last two races --  Charlotte and Kansas -- after being diagnosed
 with a concussion days after he was involved in a 25-car accident on the final
 lap  of the Oct. 7 event at Talladega. He also sustained a concussion during a
 crash  while participating  in the Aug. 29 Goodyear tire test at Kansas, which
 had recently been repaved.
 Since  his  diagnosis, Earnhardt Jr. has  been evaluated by Dr. Jerry Petty, a
 neurosurgeon,  in Charlotte.  Throughout the process, Petty consulted with Dr.
 Micky  Collins, director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports
 Medicine Concussion Program. Earnhardt Jr. was evaluated by Collins on Oct. 16
 in Pittsburgh.
 On  Monday,  Earnhardt ran 123 laps  in a Sprint  Cup Series car during a test
 session  monitored by  Petty  at  the half-mile  Gresham  Motorsports Park  in
 Jefferson,  Ga.  Petty then  cleared him  the following  morning after a final
 neuropsychological evaluation.
 "Dale  Jr. has  done everything asked of  him," Petty said in a statement. "He
 hasn't  had a headache since Oct. 12, and we have not been able to provoke any
 symptoms since that time. I have informed NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports that
 he is medically cleared for all NASCAR-related activity."
 Prior  to the  start of  Sunday's  400-mile race  at Kansas,  team owner  Rick
 Hendrick  told reporters that Earnhardt Jr. would return to the No. 88 car for
 Martinsville.  Hendrick, though,  later rescinded  his pre-race  comments that
 Earnhardt Jr. had been cleared, noting that he would not receive authorization
 until after the test at Gresham.
 Regan Smith has substituted for Earnhardt Jr., finishing 38th at Charlotte due
 to  engine failure and then seventh at Kansas. As a result of missing the last
 two  races,  Earnhardt Jr.  is last  in the Chase  rankings, 122 points behind
 leader Brad Keselowski.
 10/23 14:42:50 ET

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