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Earnhardt likely to return next week

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been cleared to drive after missing two races with a concussion. AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File
By The Associated Press
Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, 7:44 p.m.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is expected back on the track next weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

Team owner Rick Hendrick said Sunday that NASCAR's most popular driver has been headache-free for more than a week, and that tests by a specialist in Pittsburgh showed no lingering issues from two concussions that Earnhardt sustained in a six-week span.

Earnhardt will get back into a car Monday and, if everything goes well, could be cleared to drive by neurosurgeon Dr. Jerry Petty during a follow-up visit Tuesday.

“Everything's great,” Hendrick said before Sunday's race at Kansas Speedway.

“He feels good. He's done everything they told him to do. He didn't have any more headaches after, I guess it was Thursday or Friday of Charlotte week, so everything's good.”

Earnhardt was first injured in a crash during a tire test Aug. 29 at Kansas but didn't seek treatment for the mild concussion. He was part of a 25-car pileup on Oct. 7 at Talladega and sought treatment from a doctor who ultimately benched him for two races.

Earnhardt's doctor had said he would not be cleared to race until he'd gone at least four days headache-free, then went through various tests and spent some time behind the wheel.

That wheel time will occur Monday during a closed test that Hendrick said will probably take place at Gresham Motorsports Park in Georgia.

“He's burning up to get in the car. I mean, he wanted to run this weekend,” Hendrick said.

“He's very anxious. He wants to get back,” he said. “No way you're going to hold him out unless the doctor wouldn't clear him, but he's good to go.”

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