Q. At Talladega, because he was able to get the car back to the garage, Dale didn't have to go to the Care Center. Is there any thought that you would require guys to go anyway after a hit that you saw? And how can you change the mentality of the athletes to be honest and forward about this?
STEVE O'DONNELL: I think to answer your first question, I think the challenge for us is every hit is subjective. So if we required every driver to go to the Care Center – let's take Dale Jr. in this instance. If it was lap 40, he seemed fine, drove the car in, and had a quick adjustment in five laps and could get him back out there and he felt fine, have we then cost a driver a championship, or are you asking me the opposite question?
So it's very tough. It's still a subjective call. It's something we take a look at week-in and week-out. So we'll continue to do that. But I think the policy – and we have sent drivers to the Care Center when they have hit during a race and been able to drive it back and we've evaluated that.
Q. How you could encourage the athletes to continue in this era of concussion in sports to be honest and come to you, even if their ride is in jeopardy?
STEVE O'DONNELL: No, to answer that, it probably starts in Daytona. We have a driver safety meeting every year in Daytona where we bring in our expert to talk to our drivers about what we've learned in the past year, and any new safety elements we've had, what you've seen from that, obviously over the years, the safer barrier, the HANS device, new helmets, seats, all of those things have been updates we've talked to drivers about and worked with the teams and tried to implement as quickly as we can.
Those are things we do on a weekly basis if necessary. But more importantly, every year we have that forum with the drivers, their teams, to make sure it's as safe as possible going forward.
Q. Steve, you talked about the safety record for NASCAR, and I don't think anybody can argue with that. But to your knowledge has NASCAR ever sat a driver down because of medical concerns resulting from an injury?
STEVE O'DONNELL: We actually have, and I would say the toughest call would be Rick Crawford. If you look at 2005, he had the longest streak in the trucks, was ready to break it. Had an incident. It was evaluated in the Care Center. Saw a neurologist, and we chose to say no. That was by the doctor's orders. Very tough call.
I think Rick is still not talking to some of us sometimes. But I would probably point to that as an example that sticks without with a driver who had been in the car for a long time – or excuse me, the truck – had set a streak, and unfortunately we had to sit him out.
Q. You've referenced that a neurosurgeon with five years' experience or more can clear a driver. What other things are part of the concussion policy that they have to go through? I know Dr. Petty talked about things similar to the NFL. Can you take us through at this point? Obviously, the concussion policy doesn't kick through until it's been diagnosed. So if a driver's hidden it, you don't know about it. So what happens from the point of a driver getting a concussion, what is the policy and detail before they get back on the track?
STEVE O'DONNELL: I think if you take an incident say here at Charlotte, if a driver were to have an incident, first and foremost is evaluated in the infield Care Center where we've got board certified emergency technicians or doctors, I'm sorry. And they'll evaluate the driver at that point.
If the driver complains of any symptoms or if the emergency room physician believes there may be symptoms, we refer them to a neurologist. In most cases, it is Dr. Petty.
Drivers have a lot of trust in Dr. Petty. He's worked with the NFL and the [Charlotte] Panthers and NASCAR has that relationship. So at that point he's required to go through the tests that you heard Dr. Petty lay out. Then it's up to our neurologists to make the call on whether or not that driver's going to be back.
NASCAR, we take ourselves out of that, and rely on our doctors to make the call on whether or not the driver could be back. In some cases it could be two weeks, some could be less, some could be longer like Eric McClure. It's a case-by-case basis based on a driver's history or lack thereof and what the doctor tells us.
Q. You talked about neurosurgeons. Does that mean Dr. Petty's going to present his information to somebody else? Is there an advisory board?
STEVE O'DONNELL: Actually, Dr. Petty would be the neurologist who would evaluate it. Dr. Petty also works with Dr. Deshmukh who is here and who is part of our advisory board as well. So that's usually who we'd refer anyone to with a potential head injury or concussion. At that point, again, it's up to them to clear them, and we rely on their expertise.
Q. I seem to remember from all the years in NASCAR that NASCAR from a federal standpoint is totally different from the NFL and baseball and such because these are independent contractors. So does that limit to some degree what NASCAR can do in a situation like this?
STEVE O'DONNELL: Our safety record is pretty clear. I think our drivers are very confident in what we have in place each and every weekend, especially here at Charlotte. If you looked out at the safety measures that are in place, the personnel NASCAR has on board, the relationships that the drivers have between our officials, the safety workers at the track, our liaison team, our advisory panel for the doctor.
So I think if anything, it offers us an even better relationship, because unlike other sports, we've got 43 drivers here each and every weekend. They see the same folks. They are used to the same folks at the track. The ambulance personnel who saw Dale Jr. in Kansas had worked the same corner for 12 straight years. They know that racetrack and I think that familiarity helps us and gives us an advantage as well.