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For all the praise Earnhardt received for scheduling a doctor’s appointment, it was only after he was all but eliminated from championship contention. With so much at stake _ from wins to sponsor commitments to hefty purse money _ drivers have every incentive to hide an injury.

Yes, Earnhardt sought medical attention. Yes, Gordon endorsed baseline testing and sitting out to heal the brain.

But inside the head of every driver is the ability to mentally shake off the life-altering consequences ahead all because of one pileup or blown tire _ even if that includes sliding into the cockpit with a concussion.

“If I’m a race car driver,” Waltrip said, “I’d still try to fake it.”


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