Dale Earnhardt Jr. returned to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition last weekend at Martinsville following a two-race absence after sustaining two concussions in recent months. Concussions sustained during testing at Kansas Speedway on Aug. 29 and during an accident at Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 7 prompted Earnhardt Jr. to step out of the cockpit.
Earnhardt Jr. has grown from his experience, but is ready to shift his focus back to racing.
"I want to run hard, and I want us to go into every weekend trying to do what we've been doing all year long," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I'm glad I did what I did. I'm glad I took the time off and made the choices that I made. They were hard to make, but I had to do it."
With Earnhardt Jr.'s attention back on racing, he is confident about moving forward at a track like Texas Motor Speedway where he has had a great deal of success. Earnhardt Jr. earned his first career Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series victories at Texas Motor Speedway.
In his five previous appearances he has four top-10 finishes, including a seventh-place effort in last year's AAA Texas 500. In his 20 career starts, he has amassed 11 top-10 finishes. While he's had success at Texas Motor Speedway, it can present a challenge to drivers.
"It's a mile-and-a-half like a lot of the other tracks we run on in the series, but this track has got some oddities to it and things about it that make it a lot different than most of the other mile-and-a-half tracks," Earnhardt Jr. said. "The exit to Turn 2 is a real challenge. The bumps and stuff are pretty challenging at the bottom of both corners. The entry to (Turn) 3 is really, really loose. It's a unique place and what makes it even better is the energy the fans bring here. The fan base here has always been pretty solid right from the start."