Rick Hendrick retracts statement

Updated: October 25, 2012, 12:33 PM ET
By Terry Blount | ESPN.com

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick held a midrace news conference at Kansas Speedway on Sunday to retract his previous statement that Dale Earnhardt Jr. was cleared to race next weekend at Martinsville, Va.

But Hendrick still expects Earnhardt to return to the driver's seat of the No. 88 Chevrolet for the Sprint Cup race next weekend.

I didn't read my emails this morning. I spoke too soon. I do apologize. I've been scolded severely. I promise I will keep my mouth shut.

-- Rick Hendrick on earlier announcing
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was cleared to drive

"I didn't read my emails this morning," Hendrick said. "I spoke too soon. I do apologize. I've been scolded severely. I promise I will keep my mouth shut."

Earnhardt missed the past two races because of a concussion. He saw neurosurgeons in Pittsburgh earlier this week for extensive testing.

Before Sunday's race, Hendrick said Earnhardt had been cleared to race, telling ESPN, "Dale came through all the tests with flying colors. Everything is great. He can't wait to get back in the car. We're exciting to get him back." But Hendrick later said he was misinformed.

Earnhardt will have a closed test at Gresham Motorsports Park, a half-mile oval in Jefferson, Ga., on Monday, which will be attended by Dr. Jerry Petty, a Charlotte neurosurgeon and a NASCAR consultant.

"Earnhardt then will be evaluated by Dr. Petty in his office on Tuesday," Hendrick said. "If everything looks good, Dr. Petty will inform NASCAR."

Hendrick said he had spoken to Petty earlier this weekend, who informed him things were good with Earnhardt's health.

"But maybe I heard just what I wanted to hear," Hendrick said.

Earnhardt suffered a concussion in a testing session crash at Kansas Speedway in August, but he didn't tell anyone about it at the time.

After being involved in a 25-car crash on the last lap at Talladega two weeks ago, Junior suffered more headaches and decided to see Dr. Petty, who recommended Earnhardt sit out the next two races.

Regan Smith drove the No. 88 Chevy at in races at Charlotte and Kansas.

"I will be shocked if (Earnhardt) is not back in the car (at Martinsville)," Hendrick said. "Everything looks good. He's had no headaches since Thursday or Friday at Charlotte."

Terry Blount

ESPN Seattle Seahawks reporter

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