NASCAR To Mandate Baseline Concussion Testing

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, looks on dueing pre-race ceremonies during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal presents the Curtiss Shaver 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 29, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. missed two races last season with a concussion. (credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

CHARLOTTE (AP) — NASCAR will mandate baseline concussion testing for its drivers starting next season.

NASCAR only recommended the testing this season, but indicated to drivers that a preseason baseline screening could become mandatory as early as 2014. The baseline will be used to measure against test results after a driver has crashed when diagnosing a concussion.

The baseline testing will be performed through the widely-used neurocognitive assessment ImPACT test, which evaluates an athlete’s verbal and visual memory, processing speed and reaction time.

NASCAR said during Daytona Speedweeks it had identified 32 concussions in its three national series since 2004. Three were suffered in 2012, and one cost Dale Earnhardt Jr. two races last year.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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