Dale Jr. glad to see statement on Hamlin, fine with NASCAR’s medical process

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Shortly after Dale Earnhardt Jr. sounded off on the lack of news regarding the condition of Denny Hamlin, word came that Hamlin had been cleared for this weekend’s race at Martinsville Speedway after doctors removed a sliver of metal from his eye.

Before today’s first practice session at Martinsville, Earnhardt said that the statement from Hamlin had eased his concerns about unfounded speculations regarding the Joe Gibbs Racing driver’s health.

“I thought a lack of a statement from Denny’s point of view left him vulnerable and unprotected (from speculation),” Earnhardt said to reporters. “I just felt like it was important for him to have a very simple statement that sort of cleared up any kind of assumptions or whatever you have for him, personally.

“That was good, I thought, on his behalf to do that as quickly as he could.”

JGR had initially said Hamlin was suffering from a vision-impairing sinus infection, which kept him out of last Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in California (Sam Hornish Jr. drove his car in a fill-in role). The decision to keep him out was revealed within an hour of the green flag.

He was taken to a local hospital and was released later that same evening.

The episode has caused some NASCAR observers, including USA Today’s Jeff Gluck, to call for the sanctioning body to install a traveling group of physicians to take care of the drivers (the series does have a traveling group of nurses, but doctors are usually chosen by each track).

However, Earnhardt believes that NASCAR’s medical process is fine.

I feel great about the process and what NASCAR has had in place for years,” he said. “They bring in the best people from that region that have the best connections to the hospitals in that region. If I am in trouble, I know I am going to be somewhere I am going to be taken care of very quickly.

“NASCAR has a team that travels and has all the information on our health and it is updated weekly if it needs to be. So I like the system we have in place, I feel like it’s adequate and I’m happy Denny is cleared and ready to race this weekend.”

Hamlin is scheduled to meet with the media at Martinsville later today.

Formula One: Recapping the past week’s news

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While the FIA Formula 1 World Championship is still two months away from beginning its 2018 season, this past week did bring about news items that filled out the 2018 grid and shed some light on individual team and car launches as the season-opening Australian Grand Prix draws closer.

Below is a recap of F1 news from this past week:

Williams Signs Sirotkin for 2018 Drive, Names Kubica as Reserve Driver

The saga of the second seat at Williams Martini Racing was finally resolved early on in the week, with former Renault Sport F1 Team test driver Sergey Sirotkin officially confirmed as a teammate to the incumbent Lance Stroll in 2018.

The announcement concluded months of speculation that saw multiple drivers test for the team in an auditioning capacity. Most notably, Robert Kubica looked to be a main contender for the seat before Sirotkin emerged as the favorite.

However, Kubica, who has not raced in Formula 1 since a devastating rally accident in 2011 left him with brutal injuries to his right arm, was named as a reserve and development driver for the team.

This announcement also completes the 2018 Formula 1 driver lineup, with all 11 teams having their seats now filled. Among those who were left without F1 drives are Paul Di Resta, who drove for Williams at the Hungarian Grand Prix in relief of Felipe Massa and even tested with them during the Winter months, and Antonio Giovinazzi, who filled in for Pascal Wehrlein at the Australian and Chinese Grands Prix.

Former Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat is also without a race seat for 2018, but did sign on with Scuderia Ferrari as a development driver.

Mercedes, McLaren Reveal Dates for Their 2018 Car Launches

While most teams have not yet released dates for when their 2018 cars will be publicly launched, three notables have.

Mercedes AMG Petronas will introduce its 2018 challenger on February 22nd, the same day Ferrari is doing so, while McLaren will unveil its car one day later on the 23rd.

Testing will commence on February 26th at Circuit de Catalunya.

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