Well, this Dale Earnhardt Jr. story keeps getting more and more shocking. First off, it was a complete shocker to see the Hendrick Motorsports release on Thursday evening that Earnhardt would not race in this weekend’s race at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway due to “concussion-like symptoms.” No one, and I do mean no one, saw that coming.
Earnhardt, thought he was just feeling sick prior to the Kentucky race, but as it turns out, it was something more than that. Now, he’s sitting out this week as Alex Bowman will replace him in the No. 88 Chevrolet this weekend.
But, there was no timetable for a return, and if he can’t run in next weekend’s race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, then Hendrick Motorsports said in their press conference at NHMS on Friday morning, that Jeff Gordon would be the replacement in the Brickyard 400.
Yes, Gordon replacing Earnhardt.
Gordon, retired following last season, as after 23 full-time years, he said it was time for him to hang up his helmet. He moved into a broadcasting role this year, as he was an analyst for FOX’s NASCAR broadcast for the opening 16 races of the season.
But, now that NBC Sports has the right for the second half of the year, Gordon is free to do whatever he wants. That’s why a fill-in role is very likely and honestly, and he’s the best driver to do so at Indy.
Gordon raced in all 22 Brickyard 400’s as he has a record setting five wins in those 22 tries. He also has 12 top fives and 17 top 10’s to his credit there, as he will forever be one of the best racers at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway ever.
I’m sure he’d like to get one more try out of that race anyways, as he left his last start with a bad taste in his mouth. He came home a career worst 42nd in last year’s race.
But prior to last year, he had four straight top 10’s, and 13 top 10’s in his last 15 Brickyard starts.
Now, it appears either direction is going to be a huge story line. Either it’s Earnhardt back in the car or Gordon in it.