2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski doesn’t seem to be entirely thrilled with NASCAR’s mandate of baseline concussion testing for all of its national series competitors starting next year.
After qualifying this afternoon at Martinsville Speedway, the Penske Racing driver insisted that he’s “trying really hard to keep an open mind” about NASCAR’s new policy but also fretted over the potential input from doctors in determining when an injured driver can return to race.
“Doctors don’t understand our sport,” Keselowski said. “They never have and they never will. Doctors aren’t risk takers. We are. That’s what makes our sport what it is and when you get doctors involved, you water down our sport.
“I’m trying to be open-minded to the possibility that they can help us, but past experience says no.”
NASCAR announced this week that it would implement mandatory baseline testing via the ImPACT test, so doctors can have data on hand in the event they must evaluate a driver that may have sustained a concussion in an incident.
Keselowski appears to be particularly worried about what kind of score on the ImPACT test would be enough to get the OK from doctors to climb back in a car.
“If you have a test and you come back later and you score five percent worse, is that OK?,” he said. “Is it 10? Is it 11? Is it one? There’s a tolerance to everything we do in this world. There’s not a part on our race car that isn’t built to a tolerance. There’s not a part on the space shuttle that isn’t built to a tolerance. The same thing could be said for this particular field.
“What’s good? What’s bad? What’s the number? That’s really what’s relevant to the conversation, but if there isn’t a number that’s good or bad with this style of testing, then it’s a waste of time. It’s just another subjective field for doctors that don’t understand our sport.”
Tonight, Keselowski took to his Twitter page to state his case even further in a series of Tweets (listed here in chronological order, with the most recent at the end):
However, one of his peers had a more positive opinion on the concussion testing.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. missed two Chase for the Sprint Cup events last year after suffering a concussion in a massive crash at Talladega. And for his part, he doesn’t understand the concerns regarding the ImPACT test.
“It’s not two plus two equals four and ‘Oh well, you chose three, you are out,'” said Earnhardt. “There is no right or wrong answers. It’s a test that really gives you an image of how someone thinks, how quickly they make decisions and how they make decisions, how they rationale.”
Noting that his ImPACT score was much lower after he was concussed than when he was recovering, Earnhardt supported the new policy and believes that the worries will eventually subside.
“I think it’s a really good move and it’s really smart,” he said. “I think once people understand, I encourage you to go take the test. It takes 30 minutes and you will know what the test means, how it’s scored, how your graded, if you will. It’s a really loose term. Then you will see a bit more of the doctors point of view and you will understand there is not a big need for concern on the driver’s point of view.”