Jeff Gordon will fill in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Chevrolet SS at Indianapolis and Pocono, Hendrick Motorsports has confirmed.
Gordon was floated as a potential sub for Earnhardt after the 41-year old announced he would sit out last Sunday’s race at New Hampshire with concussion-like symptoms. Alex Bowman filled in for Earnhardt on short notice at New Hampshire, but it will be four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champ Gordon behind the wheel at Indy and Pocono.
“Jeff’s a team player,” Hendrick Motorsports team owner Rick Hendrick said in a statement. “I know he’ll be ready, and I know Dale has incredible trust in him. It’s going to be an emotional weekend with Dale not being there and seeing Jeff back behind the wheel. (No. 88 crew chief) Greg (Ives) and the team did a great job at New Hampshire, and they have the full support of our organization.”
Gordon retired following the 2015 NASCAR season, but didn’t rule out a return to racing in one form or another. The former No. 24 Chevrolet driver has four wins at Indy to his name, with the last coming just two years ago in 2014.
Earnhardt was evaluated Tuesday after sitting out at New Hampshire. There’s no timetable for his return, however NASCAR said he will need the approval of an independent board-certified neurologist with at least five years’ experience in sports-related head injuries before he can climb back behind the wheel.
Earnhardt missed a portion of the 2012 NASCAR season after sustaining two concussions in six weeks late in the season. In a statement, 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.”