Jeff Gordon Will Come Out of Retirement to Race Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 Car at Brickyard 400
Just when he thought he was out, they pull him back in…
Though he ended his 23-year NASCAR driving career last season, Jeff Gordon has confirmed the speculation that he will be coming out of retirement to race Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 Chevrolet at both this Sunday’s Brickyard 400 and next week’s race at Pocono.
Gordon is filling in for Junior due to the latter’s concussion-like symptoms, which caused him to miss last Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and will likely keep him on the sidelines for at least the next two weeks, if not longer.
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So this Sunday, July 24th, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the 44-year-old Gordon will step out of the FOX broadcast booth and back onto the track. It will mark his 798th Sprint Cup Series start, but his first in a car that doesn’t bear his iconic No. 24.
“Jeff’s a team player,” 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 [at Indianapolis] with Dale not being there and seeing Jeff back behind the wheel. [Crew chief] Greg [Ives] and the team did a great job at New Hampshire, and they have the full support of our organization.”
After receiving a medical evaluation on Tuesday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. told fans via his “Dale Jr. Download” podcast that he was still struggling with balance and nausea, and that there was no firm timetable for his return. According to NASCAR rules, Earnhardt would have to be cleared to return to competition by an independent board-certified neurologist with five or more years of experience with sports-related head injuries in order to race again.
“Our focus is giving Dale all the time he needs to recover,” 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. 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.”
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Patrick Grieve was born in Southwestern Ohio and has lived there all of his life, with the exception of a few years spent getting a Creative Writing degree in Southeastern Ohio. He loves to take road trips, sometimes to places as distant as Northeastern or even Northwestern Ohio. Patrick also enjoys old movies, shopping at thrift stores, going to ballgames, writing about those things, and watching Law & Order reruns. He just watches the original series, though, none of the spin-offs. And also only the ones they made before Jerry Orbach died. Season five was really the peak, in his opinion. See more articles by Patrick.