NASCAR's most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., will sit out the next two Sprint Cup Series races after being diagnosed with a concussion, his team announced Thursday morning in a statement.
Hendrick Motorsports said Earnhardt will miss races this weekend at Charlotte and next weekend at Kansas after being diagnosed with a concussion on Wednesday afternoon.
Earnhardt was involved in the 25-car last-lap wreck at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway last Sunday which effectively ended his 2012 championship hopes.
Regan Smith, recently released from Furniture Row Racing, will be the No. 88 teams substitute driver at Charlotte and Kansas.
Earnhardt Jr., car owner Rick Hendrick and crew chief Steve Letarte are expected to participate in a news conference at 11 a.m. Eastern at Charlotte Motor Speedway to further discuss the move.
Sitting out will end Earnhardt's streak of 461 consecutive starts in the Cup series - the fifth longest active streak.