Exciting news for all sprint-racing fans. The four-time Cup champion, and former driver of the No. 24 Hendricks Motorsport’s car will step out of retirement to replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the next two races, but sitting behind the No. 88 wheel.
Earnhardt will miss his second consecutive race next Sunday at Indianapolis, since being diagnosed with “concussion-like” symptoms. According to his podcast released on Monday, he has been battling with balance and nausea. Some believe the concussion symptoms are the result of crashes June 12 at Michigan and July 2 at Daytona.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. underwent further evaluation last Tuesday at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program. After performing an “impact test” -a cognitive exam that measures thought process, its speed, memory and retaining memory-, the results showed equal to his most recent baseline test. Nonetheless, team owner Rick Hendrick as well as Earnhardt, agree that the best for him and the team is to take as much time needed in order to get 100 percent healthy.
Therefore, the 44-year old Jeff Gordon will step up and drive the No. 88 for the next couple of races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the following race at Pocono, on July 31. However, if Earnhardt doesn’t recover in time, Gordon might keep racing for the team.
There are six regular-season races remaining after Indianapolis. It is expected that if Dale returns during the regular-season portion of the schedule, he will get the waiver from NASCAR to miss races and still be eligible for the Chase.
On The Driver’s Seat Once More
Jeff Gordon fully stepped out of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 car at the end of the 2015 season, after competing in 797 consecutive races from the season finale in 1992 through the end of 2015. In his 23-year career, he won 93 races, good enough to stand third on the all-time Sprint Cup list. He also won 4 championships in 1995, 1997, 1998 and 2001.
Gordon has been working as a NASCAR television analyst for FOX Sports and even though he might be a little rusted from almost a year without racing, you can bet he will be bringing a lot of excitement to the next racing events.