Junior Good To Go

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - NASCAR officials announced Wednesday that Dale Earnhardt Jr. has received medical clearance to race this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

Per NASCAR policy, Earnhardt was required to undergo a thorough physical examination after sustaining injuries during an incident last Sunday at Dover International Speedway, in order to return to competition.

Earnhardt was examined this week by a recognized specialist, and was given clearance Wednesday to compete.

"My foot gets a lot better every day," said Earnhardt. "I usually use all of this ice to keep the Budweiser cold, but I've stayed off my feet, kept ice on it, and the swelling and soreness is much less than it was on Monday. It would have taken a lot more than this to keep me out of the race. Plus, Talladega is about intense mental focus – it's not a physical track like Bristol or Martinsville where your body takes a beating. I drove a Busch Series race with only one arm (he suffered a broken collarbone in practice at Milwaukee, Wis., but drove the following day to a third-place finish in July, 1999), so I'm sure once I get in the car, this won't have an impact on me. I've been to the shop a few times, and the guys are making sure I'm comfortable in the car, so we will be ready to go."

Dale Jr. can become the first driver to sweep both Talladega races in two consecutive seasons. The sweep has happened six times, but only Dale Jr's father, Dale Earnhardt, did it more than once (1990 and 1999). Recent trends look good for Dale Jr. - the last two Winston Cup races have produced season-sweeps (Jimmy Johnson at Loudon and Ryan Newman at Dover). In only seven starts, Dale Jr. is tied for second in career Winston Cup victories at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. Darrell Waltrip and Buddy Baker also won four races. It will take Dale Jr. a few more years to challenge his father's record of 10 victories at Talladega.

Qualifying is scheduled for 4:05 ET Friday and will be shown on tape-delay on SPEED at 8 p.m. ET.

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