This past Tuesday night the #88 Hendrick Motorsports team of Dale Earnhardt Jr. suffered a big blow to the pit crew. Rear Tire Changer Joe Slingerland was injured during a team outing and ended up with a broke wrist and concussion. It all went down at the U.S. National White Water Center in Charlotte on Tuesday night. During one of the events, the low ropes course, Tire Changer Joe Slingerland jumped from a log and went for the Cargo Net.
“I had just gotten to the end of the log and when I went to jump for the Cargo Net I missed. My feet went through the net and my when I put my wrist down to break my fall it broke.”
Not only did Joe break a small bone in his wrist, but when he fell back wards he hit his head on a tree root and it knocked him out.
“I don’t remember any of it but I was told I was out for about 30 seconds. I know I missed the net with my hand and the next thing I know I’m on my way to the hospital. Crew Chief Steve Letarte was behind me and he called my wife around 6:30 to let her know I was heading to the hospital. I ended up at the hospital and had to get a CT scan and checked for a concussion. I think I left around 9 that night.”
The injury is not good but there might be some hope after all. Joe plans on seeing a doctor Friday and will get a better idea of the time table he’s looking at. It could be as early as 3-4 weeks if things go good.
“Depending on how things go with my appointment on Friday, it could be as soon as Kansas or Charlotte week when I come back. I think I can get a custom cast that will enable me to hold my gun and do my job. Dr. Heisel did a great job helping me out and getting everything orchestrated.”
Taking his place is veteran Tire Changer David Mayo. David was on the #48 HMS team during the middle of the year and spend 5 years with Penske Racing before that. The #88 team is a very good pit crew but rest easy Jr. fans, Mayo is a good veteran Changer and will be just fine during the Chase.
Good luck to Joe in his recovery and to the entire #88 team.