With Dale Earnhardt Jr. still out of commission with concussion-like symptoms, Hendrick Motorsports has made the decision to bring back Jeff Gordon for the next two NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Indianapolis and Pocono. Since his last start at Homestead-Miami Speedway a year ago, Gordon has spent his time as an analyst for NASCAR on FOX. Because the television network concluded their 2016 season of broadcasting Sprint Cup and Xfinity races a few weeks ago in Sonoma, Gordon was available to step back in the saddle.
Gordon's current stats include an impressive amount of 797 starts. The two fill-in starts will make him close to 799, one shy of 800. An Indiana native, Gordon has 93 wins, 81 pole positions, 325 top-five finishes, and 475 top-10 finishes. At Indianapolis, he has five-wins including the inagural 'Brickyard' in 1994 at the age of 23, as well as three poles, 12 top-fives and 17 top-10's. He still remains an equity owner of HMS having made all of his starts for owner Rick Hendrick.
"Jeff's a team player," Hendrick said in an HMS statement this morning. "“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."
After notifying fans of balance issues and nausea on his "The Dale Jr. Download" podcast on Monday, Earnhardt Jr. was further evaluated yesterday at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program. Although he will not travel to Indianapolis or Pocono, he made a swing by the Hendrick shop this afternoon. "He just wanted to stop by and check in with all the guys," no. 88 crew chief Greg Ives told NBC's NASCAR America. "Everybody's concerned about him here. It kinda changed the mood in the shop and pumped up everyone a little bit. It was definitely great to see him here at the shop."
Meanwhile, Ives and Gordon have already been preparing for the weekend. "Last night he actually came by and sat in the car and we made sure all of his equipment fit him still," Ives explained to NBC. "Everything went well and I wanted to get it done as soon as we could. He (Jeff) has a lot of experience at Indy and he just asked for specifics."
General Manager of HMS, Doug Duchardt also appeared on NASCAR America and explained how the company came about selecting Gordon. "Jeff was the obvious person to be able to step in so we quickly reached out to him," Duchardt said. "It didn't take us long to come up with that backup plan. If Jeff could do it, that was going to be our number-one go to."
There is no time table for Earnhardt Jr's return but Hendrick is not hurrying anything. "“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.”
Coming off the ranch, I didn’t have a motorsports background but my passion was and still is very strong. My first taste of NASCAR came at the age of seven while waiting for music videos to come on the old TNN network. As I grew up, I pursued other interest but eventually rediscovered cars going left when I found the SPEED channel during the 2011-2012 offseason.
I didn’t decide I wanted to pursue a career in NASCAR until the summer of 2012. I’m not a wrench head or strong enough for a pit crew so media was the next best thing. At the beginning of 2013, I started going to races and making connections within the sport. I also studied Motorsports Management at Sports Management Worldwide. Although I love what happens on the track, I’ve always been interested in what goes on behind the scenes and I’ve gotten to know many people throughout the radio, TV and digital media world.
While I’m a long time writer, 2015 was my first year actually covering the sport with www.nascarfemale.com . I also became a media correspondent for Raceline. I’ve been able to help the TV show gain recognition on social media. My current goal is to acquire more experience in covering NASCAR and move up the media ladder. Outside of motorsports, I have been an equine-sports statistician for 16 years.
I currently reside in Gillette, WY where I’m still involved with horses. I enjoy riding them, rodeo, swimming, traveling and meeting people.