Dale Earnhardt Jr to sit out, Gordon in for Indy and Pocono
CONCORD, N.C. - Hendrick Motorsports announced Wednesday that Jeff Gordon will replace Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in the No. 88 Chevrolet in the next two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway.
Sunday's Crown Royal presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 will be Earnhardt's second consecutive race missed due to concussion-like symptoms. Alex Bowman replaced him last week at New Hampshire, finishing 26th after making contact with the wall late in the race.
Gordon is a five-time winner at the Brickyard, including the inaugural event in 1994. He last won at Indianapolis in 2014. In his last full-time season of Sprint Cup competition, Gordon finished third in the standings, coming up just short of earning his fifth championship. He is third on the all-time wins list with 93 career victories, including 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. Greg (Ives) and the team did a great job at New Hampshire, and they have the full support of our organization."
The two-time Daytona 500 champion said on his podcast Monday that he was going to take it slow and work with his doctors to understand his injury and how to treat it.
“Our focus is giving Dale all the time he needs to recover,” said Hendrick. “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.”
Earnhardt currently sits 15th in the points, 14 points ahead of Trevor Bayne for the last Chase position. Upon his return, Earnhardt would require a waiver from NASCAR to remain eligible for the 2016 Chase.