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Dale Jr.'s latest concussion won't force retirement

Jeff Gordon to fill in at Watkins Glen and Bristol.

As Hendrick Motorsports announces that Jeff Gordon will fill in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the next two races – today at Watkins Glen and in two weeks at Bristol Motor Speedway – the 41-year-old fan favorite is talking about the impact of his latest concussion and what it means for his career in an interview with Autoweek. Let's get the most important bit out of the way – Junior isn't considering retirement as he fights concussion-like symptoms, giving Autoweek a resounding "no" when asked if he'd considered retirement.

"My doctor thinks that to get through the therapy and to get through the symptoms you don't need to be adding stress to your life. The stress will slow down the process. So, going into those kinds of conversations aren't even necessary at this particular point. The point right now is just to get healthy. Just to get right. I'm not thinking about the what-ifs. I'm just listening to my doctors," Earnhardt Jr. told Autoweek. "As soon as I can get healthy and get confident in how I feel and feel like I can drive a car and be great driving it then I want to drive. I want to race. I miss the competition. I miss being here. I miss the people and as Rick likes to say 'we've got unfinished business.' I'm not ready to stop racing."

As the star himself admitted, his latest concussion a few weeks ago at Michigan International Speedway was unusual. It wasn't a particularly brutal hit – the 88 side-swiped the super speedway's wall, hitting the passenger-side, rear-fender first.

"I didn't have a massive accident and I didn't have really crazy symptoms. This thing happened so awkward where we had the accident in Michigan and then the symptoms crept in very slowly like two weeks later. I didn't think this was that serious, but it had gotten to a point to where I definitely didn't need to be in the racecar," Junior said. "At that point you've got to go get checked out and get ahold of it and figure out how to fix it."

Earnhardt Jr. has been very open about his concussion woes. He made headlines earlier this year when he announced that he's donating his brain to researchers studying chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain disease widely linked to repeated concussions. Junior has already missed races at Indianapolis and Pocono.

You can read the rest of the in-depth interview over at Autoweek.

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