Dale Earnhardt Jr. medically cleared to race in 2017

t’s official: After missing the entire second half of the 2016 season due to a concussion, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been medically cleared to return to competition, Hendrick Motorsports announced Thursday morning.

Earnhardt successfully tested at Darlington Raceway Wednesday and afterwards was given medical clearance by Dr. Micky Collins, medical director of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program in Pittsburgh, in consultation with Charlotte neurosurgeon Dr. Jerry Petty. Earnhardt has worked extensively with Collins during his rehabilitation.

Petty, a longtime fixture in the NASCAR community,  attended the test at the 1.366-mile South Carolina racetrack.

Earnhardt’s first race will be the Daytona 500 on Feb. 26, 2017 on FOX.

“Dale is one of the hardest-working patients I’ve ever encountered,” Collins said. “He’s done everything we’ve asked, and we believe he is ready to compete at a professional level again and can withstand the normal forces of a race car driver. Dale has been very open with us, and we’ve had plenty of time for his treatment, so we feel very good about his long-term prospects and how this has been managed by everyone involved.”

Full story at FoxSports.com.