Jeff Gordon to drive at Indy if Dale Earnhardt Jr. still sidelined
Hendrick Motorsports announces that if Dale Earnhardt Jr. is unable to get behind the wheel of the No. 88 Chevrolet next week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Jeff Gordon will take his place.
Jeff Gordon may not be done racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series after all.
Hendrick Motorsports announced Friday morning that if the concussion-like symptoms that sidelined Dale Earnhardt Jr. for this Sunday’s New Hampshire 301 continue to linger, causing him to sit out a second consecutive race next Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Gordon will take Earnhardt’s place behind the wheel of the No. 88 Chevrolet.
Gordon, a four-time NASCAR Premier Series champion, retired at the end of last year and is a FOX Sports analyst on NASCAR television broadcasts.
— Hendrick Motorsports (@TeamHendrick) July 15, 2016
Hendrick Motorsports announced that Earnhardt was sitting out this Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after experiencing the conussion-like symptoms following crashes recently at Michigan and again at Daytona. Earnhardt did race at Kentucky after the wreck at Daytona, but underwent a more extensive examination when the symptoms continued to linger afterward.
Gordon retired after 24 years of racing at NASCAR’s top level, during which he recorded 93 wins in 797 career starts. Five of Gordon’s wins came at Indy, where no other driver has won as many, and only Richard Petty and David Pearson have more all-time wins in the series overall.
“I’m disappointed about missing New Hampshire this weekend. I’m looking forward to treatment with the goal of getting back in the race car when the doctors say I’m ready,” Earnhardt Jr. said in a statement released Friday evening.
Later, he took to Twitter to thank fans and others for all their support.
I appreciate everyone’s support and prayers and will miss my team terribly this weekend. I’m working with some great doctors to get well.
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) July 15, 2016
This is not the first time Earnhardt has had to miss a race because of a concussion-related injury. He also missed two races during the 2012 Chase after crashing during a practice session at Kansas Speedway, and then aggravating his injury in a wreck at Talladega shortly thereafter.
In that instance, Earnhardt took the two weeks off based on a recommendation from Dr. Andrew Petty, the same neurosurgeon who last week recommended that Camping World Truck Series driver John Wes Townley sit out at least one weekend because of concussion-like symptoms Townley was experiencing after a wreck at Gateway Motorsports Park recently.
Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports, said he was glad Earnhardt admitted he was experiencing problems and sought medical attention. He also said he wants Earnhardt to take as long as he needs before getting back in the car, and that at this point no one is certain when that will be.
“I’m proud of Dale for standing up,” Hendrick said. “The number-one priority is his health, so we’re going to give him all the time he needs. We completely support the decision by the doctors and will be ready to go win races when he’s 100 percent. In the meantime, we have full confidence in (crew chief) Greg (Ives) and the team, and we know they’ll do a great job.”
Earnhardt currently sits 13th in the points standings and has yet to win a race this season.