Hendrick Motorsports Says Jeff Gordon Could Replace Dale Jr. at Indy
LOUDON, N.H. - Hendrick Motorsports General Manager Doug Duchardt announced Friday that if Dale Earnhardt Jr. is not cleared by doctors to race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 24, that Jeff Gordon would pilot the No. 88 Chevy in the Brickyard 400.
The announcement was made during a press conference Hendrick Motorsports scheduled at New Hampshire Motor Speedway following the news that Earnhardt would miss the New Hampshire 301 with concussion-like symptoms. This is the second time in Earnhardt's career that he has been sidelined with this type of injury after he missed two races in October of 2012.
"I think Dale's become more aware of the years and to his credit…the only person who knows how you feel is yourself," Duchardt said. "You have to be self-aware of how your body responds. So for Dale, I could tell that when he called me Tuesday it was a tough conversation. I know he feels bad and he feels he's letting Greg [Ives] and the team down."
Duchardt said the team didn't originally plan on needing a replacement driver, but a backup driver in the event that Earnhardt had to get out of the car during a race. Gordon is a five-time winner at Indianapolis in the Sprint Cup Series, including the inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1994 and the 2014 running of the event.
"If Dale can't go next week at Indy, Jeff Gordon will be the driver at Indianapolis," Duchardt said.
Wednesday is deadline next week to decide if @JeffGordonWeb will take @DaleJr place at Indy @PRNlive— Mark Garrow (@GuruGarrow) July 15, 2016
Duchardt confirmed that Gordon was unavailable this week as he is in France with his family.
"It's not the circumstances I want to get an opportunity like this, but…it's the best opportunity I've ever had in my life," Bowman said. "I'm ready to just plug-in to their program and do my job and give them the best feedback I can."
NASCAR's David Higdon announced Friday that before Earnhardt could return to competition, he would need approval from a board-certified neurologist. No timetable has been set for his return.