Published: Sun, July 17, 2016
Culture | By Antonia Gonzales

Jeff Gordon could replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Indianapolis

Alex Bowman, who drives a partial schedule in the Xfinity Series for JR Motorsport, is subbing for Earnhardt this weekend but should Earnhardt miss next weekend's race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Duchardt said former Hendrick driver and now NASCAR TV analyst Jeff Gordon will drive the No. 88.

Hendrick Motorsports announced Thursday evening that Earnhardt was sitting out this Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after experiencing the concussion-like symptoms following crashes recently at MI and again at Daytona.

Hendrick general manager Doug Duchardt dropped the stunning news about Gordon's possible role in the Earnhardt scenario in a news conference at the speedway. In addition to updating Earnhardt's current status, they stated that Gordon will sub for Earnhardt if he is unable to race the following week at the Brickyard. It is unknown when he would be fit to return to competition.

It remains unclear when Earnhardt will return to racing.

Earnhardt now sits 13th in the points standings with eight races left in NASCAR's regular season.

"I wasn't feeling great the week going into Kentucky (Speedway) and thought it was possibly severe allergies", Earnhardt said in a statement Thursday.

"If that all comes to fruition, I do feel Jeff can jump right back in. To get healed, he needed to be out of the vehicle". In 2012, he missed two races late in the season following a hard crash during a test at Kansas Speedway. He has called NASCAR races for Fox Sports television. I'm disappointed about missing New Hampshire this weekend. It wasn't until Wednesday at noon that Duchardt learned that Earnhardt would be out because of what were determined to be concussion-like symptoms. "We will obviously be thinking about contingency plans, but we don't have anything formalized for sure past Indy", he said.

"The most important thing in this whole process is for Dale to get better and feel better", Duchardt said, "and we're going to let that happen on the timeline it's going to happen on". It's kind of like, here I go talking to a guy about trying different honey and he is out of the race vehicle the next week.

Earnhardt is 13th in points and has yet to win this season. He made that decision, he said, after hearing about professional football players making the same choice because concussions and other head injuries have been a significant problem in the National Football League. NASCAR mandated in 2013 for drivers to submit a baseline neurocognitive assessment. "I'm ready to plug into their program, give the best feedback I can and do my job".

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