Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s 2016 season is officially over.
Hendrick Motorsports announced today that after being sidelined by concussion symptoms since
“I wish I could return to the No. 88 team this season,” said Earnhardt in a team release today. “To say I’m disappointed doesn’t begin to describe how I feel, but I know this is the right thing for my long-term health and career. I’m 100-percent focused on my recovery, and I will continue to follow everything the doctors tell me.
Earnhardt -- who is being treated by Dr. Micky Collins of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program, as well as Charlotte neurosurgeon Dr. Jerry Petty – said today that his doctors are “seeing good progress in my test results, and I’m feeling that progress physically. I plan to be healthy and ready to compete at Daytona in February. I’m working toward that.”
Jeff Gordon and Alex Bowman will continue to share the driving duties in the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet in his absence Earnhardt’s car, with Gordon driving in this weekend’s Bojangle’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. He will also compete at Richmond, Dover and Martinsville. Bowman will be behind the wheel in eight races, at Chicagoland, New Hampshire, Charlotte, Kansas, Talladega, Texas, Phoenix and Homestead-Miami Speedways.
Team owner Rick Hendrick said he supports the decision, adding, “I know how hard Dale has worked and how frustrating this is for him. He wants to be back, and we want him back, but we want it to be for the long haul. We’ve had incredible support from everyone involved with the team, including all of our sponsors. They’ve put Dale’s health first every step of the way.
“Jeff and Alex will give us a great opportunity over the rest of the season. Jeff is one of the best of all time and knows our system. He brings things to the table that no one else can. Alex is a young driver with a lot of talent, and he will give us a fresh perspective. We know they’re not only capable of running up front and giving us a chance to win, but they’ll help us get better.”