By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
One of the top stories over the past few weeks has been Dale Earnhardt Jr. being sidelined with concussion-like symptoms. At the same time, John Wes Townley has been sidelined from races in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menard’s with the same type of injury.
Townley joined “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio where he spoke about the incidents that he believes led to his concussion like symptoms. Townley’s concussion symptoms began after his wrecks at Gateway Motorsports Park. The first accident happened after contact with Spencer Gallagher, which sent Townley spinning into the turn two wall with a hard driver’s-side impact. “It wasn’t too bad, but it was enough to ring my bell a little bit,” Townley said. After a trip to infield care center, Townley got back into his repaired No. 05 Chevrolet Silverado. Unfortunately for Townley, the brakes on his already damaged Silverado gave out after a few laps on track, leading to another hard crash with Gallagher.
Townley went on to say, “After that, I saw lots of stars, and it kind of dazed me, so I think that’s what did the damage. I didn’t really think much of it to start out with, but after a few days, the symptoms hadn’t really subsided, so I decided in light of things to just hang out and not race the Daytona Xfinity race (on July 1). But even after a week had passed, the symptoms were still there, so that’s kind of when I decided to go and follow up with the NASCAR medical community and do whatever they recommended, and that’s when I got evaluated and figured out what was going on.”
The Xfinity race at Daytona was the first event Townley would miss. Townley missed the following Truck Series race at Kentucky, where Parker Kligerman filled in. The same weekend, Townley sat out of the ARCA race at Iowa Speedway where Cole Custer filled in. Townley was not medically cleared to run the Eldora Truck race, as a result, Brady Boswell filled in. Kligerman also filled in for Townley in the ARCA race at Lucas Oil Raceway.
Townley also explained the decisions that took place after Gateway,
“When I got out of the truck at Gateway and got to the med center, I had all kinds of things going through my head because I knew (in 2014) when I had the symptoms it was two or three weeks that I was pulled out. I remember the long process of getting reintegrated and back and approved. Those thoughts were definitely crossing my mind, so I’ll be the first to say I wasn’t completely honest – I didn’t tell them about seeing stars or being dazed. But I did take it upon myself that within the next few days if I’m not feeling better I’m definitely not going to race Daytona, which I didn’t, and the symptoms lasted longer than I expected. So I ended up going back and being completely honest. That’s the important thing I guess. Coming back and being honest and not going out there and taking that chance. At the end of the day, I think it’s worth it because you can go out there and keep going.”
Townley finally received medical clearance to compete in this week’s Pocono Mountains 150 Truck race at Pocono Raceway, as well as ARCA’s ModSpace 150 at Pocono.
In order for Townley to still be eligible for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase, he needed a waiver that would excuse him for missing the Kentucky and Eldora races due to medical reasons. NASCAR’s Senior Manager of Content Communications, Mike Forde confirmed to Motorsports Tribune that Townley has been granted that waiver. Townley now just needs to stay in the Top 30 in points in the Truck Series standings and to score a victory before the beginning of the Chase.
With only eight available spots in the Chase and five winners, three spots remain. As of now, Townley just needs one win to earn a spot in the Chase, however, if three other Truck Series regulars that are eligible for the Chase were to score a win before the Chase starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Townley would need a second win. There are only five more traces before the Truck Series Chase begins, giving Townley a limited amount of time to become a championship contender.