Gor­don steps in for Earn­hardt at Indy

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - MICHAEL MAROT

IN­DI­ANAPO­LIS — Dale Earn­hardt Jr. will miss two more races with con­cus­sion-like symp­toms and Jeff Gor­don will come out of re­tire­ment to drive the No. 88 car for at least the next two week­ends.

Hen­drick Mo­tor­sports an­nounced Wed­nes­day that NAS­CAR’s most pop­u­lar driver will not com­pete at this week­end’s Brick­yard 400 in In­di­anapo­lis and the next race, at Po­cono, as he con­tin­ues to re­cover from bal­ance is­sues and nau­sea.

Earn­hardt took him­self out of the car last week­end in New Hamp­shire and was re­placed by Alex Bow­man. The team said he was eval­u­ated Tues­day by doc­tors in Pitts­burgh and he was not cleared to drive.

“Our fo­cus is giv­ing Dale all the time he needs to re­cover,” team owner Rick 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.”

While re­tire­ment talk for the 41-year-old Earn­hardt might be pre­ma­ture, his his­tory of con­cus­sions is clearly a con­cern. He had two con­cus­sions in a six-week span in 2012 and missed two races, and this sea­son he was in­volved in a 22-car wreck in Day­tona and an­other wreck at Michi­gan In­ter­na­tional Speed­way. He felt steadily worse, think­ing it was al­ler­gies at first, and his head in­jury was con­firmed af­ter meet­ing with a neu­ro­log­i­cal spe­cial­ist.

Gor­don, the four-time se­ries champ and only five-time win­ner of the Brick­yard 400, will make his sea­son de­but just a short drive away from his boy­hood home in Pitts­boro, In­di­ana. He has not com­peted since re­tir­ing af­ter last year’s sea­son fi­nale and has spent this sea­son pri­mar­ily as a com­men­ta­tor on Fox Sports’ NAS­CAR cov­er­age.

Brick­yard or­ga­niz­ers had billed last year’s race as Gor­don’s “last ride” on his home track.

But now the 44-year-old Gor­don will get one more chance to be­come the first driver to reach vic­tory lane six times at In­di­anapo­lis Mo­tor Speed­way. He’s also the only Cup driver to win six times at Po­cono and has 93 ca­reer wins and has made all 797 of his ca­reer starts with Hen­drick’s team.

“Jeff’s a team player,” Hen­drick said.

GARRY JONES, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Jeff Gor­don has come out of re­tire­ment to fill in for Dale Earn­hardt Jr. in In­di­anapo­lis Sun­day.

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