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Gordon To Drive In Brickyard 400 And At Pocono

| , RacinToday.com Wednesday, July 20 2016
Jeff Gordon will fill in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the next two Sprint Cup races. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Rusty Jarrett)

Jeff Gordon will fill in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the next two Sprint Cup races. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Rusty Jarrett)

RacinToday.com

Jeff Gordon’s retirement from driving Sprint Cup cars lasted exactly 19 races and Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s 2016 season will feature a maximum of 33 races.

sprint-logo-08Hendrick Motorsports announced Wednesday that Gordon will take Eanrhardt’s ride as driver of the No. 88 HMS Chevrolet for at least the next two races as Earnhardt continues his recovery from “concussion-like symptoms”.

The news means Gordon, a four-time Cup champion who retired following the 2015 season, will climb into the 88 car at this weekend’s Brickyard 400 and next weekend’s race at Pocono Raceway.

Gordon has five career victories at Indianapolis and six at Pocono.

“Jeff’s a team player,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “I know he’ll be ready, and I know Dale has incredible trust in him. It’s going to be an emotional weekend (at Indianapolis) with Dale not being there and seeing Jeff back behind the wheel. (Crew chief) Greg
(Ives) and the team did a great job at New Hampshire, and they have the full support of our organization.”

Earnhardt sat out last weekend’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after, he said, sensing something was physically wrong with him. He was examined by medical personnel who reported the concussion-like symptoms.

Alex Bowman drove the 88 at New Hampshire and was running in the top 10 when a tire problem sent him backwards.

Earnhardt visited the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program Tuesday for further evaluation.

The driver said this week on his podcast that he has been experiencing issues with balance and nausea. He will not travel to Indianapolis or Pocono.

“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 everyone involved with the team. We’re all proud of him and looking forward to having him racing soon.”

Gordon can earn owner points for the No. 88 Chevrolet, but cannot accumulate driver points for Earnhardt. At the moment, Earnhardt sits in the final spot on the Chase Grid, 14 points ahead of the cutoff line for NASCAR’s 10-race, four-round elimination playoffs. If he returns before the Chase, he will likely be out of the top 16 in points and could need a win to make it.

| , RacinToday.com Wednesday, July 20 2016
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