By AMANDA VINCENT
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. will sit out the remainder of the 2016 season, according to a release from Hendrick Motorsports on Friday morning. Earnhardt continues to recover from a concussion his doctors believe was sustained in a crash at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn in June.
“I wish I could return to the No. 88 team this season,” Earnhardt said. “To say I’m disappointed doesn’t begin to describe how I feel, but I know this is the right thing for my long-term health and career. I’m 100 percent focused on my recovery, and I will continue to follow everything the doctors tell me. They’re seeing good progress in my test results, and I’m feeling that progress physically. I plan to be healthy and ready to compete at Daytona in February. I’m working toward that.
“The support from both inside and outside the race team has been overwhelming. Everyone has been so encouraging and positive, from my teammates and sponsors, to my family, friends and fans. It’s motivating and humbling at the same time.”
Earnhardt has missed six races, already, and Jeff Gordon and Alex Bowman have filled-in as substitute drivers of Earnhardt’s No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Gordon will be in the car Sunday for the Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. Counting the Darlington race, 12 races remain in the 2016 Sprint Cup Series season.
“Jeff and Alex will give us a great opportunity over the rest of the season,” team owner Rick Hendrick said. “Jeff is one of the best of all time and knows our system. He brings things to the table that no one else can. Alex is a young driver with a lot of talent, and he will give us a fresh perspective. We know they’re not only capable of running up front and giving us a chance to win, but they’ll help us get better.”
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