Jeff Gordon in No. 88 at Indianapolis, Pocono
Jeff Gordon (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)
By AMANDA VINCENT
Hendrick Motorsports announced Wednesday morning that Dale Earnhardt Jr., who missed the New Hampshire 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on July 17 because of concussion-like symptoms, will miss at least two additional NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races — Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the July 31 race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa. In his absence, the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet will be driven by Jeff Gordon.
“Jeff’s a team player,” Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick said. “I know he’ll be ready, and I know Dale has incredible trust in him. It’s going to be an emotional weekend with Dale not being there and seeing Jeff back behind the wheel. Greg (Ives, crew chief) and the team did a great job at New Hampshire, and they have the full support of our organization.”
Gordon retired from full-time Sprint Cup Series competition at the end of the 2015 season and has transitioned to the NASCAR on FOX broadcast booth. He’s the third on the NASCAR premier series wins list with 93 trips to victory lane, with five of those wins coming at Indianapolis and six at Pocono.
Although a native of California, Gordon gew up in Pittsboro, Ind.
After missing the race at NHMS, Earnhardt dropped to 15th in the points standings, currently the last provisional spot for Chase entry. Missing additional races will, obviously, result in the loss of more positions, and Earnhardt has yet to win this year.
“Our focus is giving Dale all the time he needs to recover,” Hendrick said. “There’s nothing we want more than to see him back in the race car, but we’ll continue to listen to the doctors and follow their lead. What’s best for Dale is what’s best for Hendrick Motorsports and everyond involved with the team. We’re all proud of him and looking forward to having him racing soon.”
According to the HMS announcement, Earnhardt underwent evaluation at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program on Tuesday.