Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet SS for Hendrick Motorsports, has not been cleared by physicians to compete in at least the next two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events as he continues to recover from a concussion. He will miss this weekend's race at Watkins Glen International, as well as the following event at Bristol Motor Speedway on Aug. 20.
Earnhardt underwent further evaluation today at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program. The driver said Monday on his weekly “The Dale Jr. Download” podcast that he continues to experience issues with balance and gaze stabilization.
“We have a break in the schedule after Watkins Glen, so the extra week of recovery time will certainly be a benefit,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “Dale will be back when he’s ready, and we’re looking forward to that happening, but the priority continues to be his health and well-being. We’ll keep our focus on that and let the doctors guide us.”
Jeff Gordon will be the team’s substitute driver at the Watkins Glen road course, where he will make his 800th career NASCAR Cup start, and Bristol. He is NASCAR’s all-time leader with nine road course victories, including four at Watkins Glen. The four-time series champion, who has five wins at Bristol, has made all 799 of his career Cup starts while driving for car owner Hendrick.
Gordon, who will turn 45 on Thursday, also filled in for Earnhardt on July 24 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Aug. 1 at Pocono Raceway. Alex Bowman drove for the No. 88 team July 17 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Earnhardt will meet with the media Friday at 12 p.m. ET in the Watkins Glen International Media Center.