Race Weekend Central

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Out At Least Another Two Weeks; Jeff Gordon to Sub

While one star won’t be racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend and Pocono Raceway the next, another star will be stepping out of retirement to fill in.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who missed Loudon last weekend due to concussion-like symptoms, will again miss the Sprint Cup shows this weekend at Indy and the following week at Pocono. Filling in for the 13-time most popular driver will be Jeff Gordon, Earnhardt’s teammate at Hendrick Motorsports from 2008-2015 before Gordon retired at the end of last season.

Gordon, who spent the first 16 races of the season as a commentator for NASCAR on FOX, will drive a Sprint Cup car for the first time since the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway last fall, a race he finished sixth in and cemented a third-place finish in the standings. It will be his first start in a Sprint Cup car other than the No. 24.

Gordon has five career wins at the Brickyard, his most recent coming in 2014, when he led 40 laps. His average finish at the track is 9.9, thanks in large part to 17 top 10s through 22 starts.

He also owns six wins at Pocono, part of 20 top 5s and 32 top 10s at the Tricky Triangle.

Rick Hendrick, team owner of the No. 88, did not announce a timetable for Earnhardt’s return to the track, stating that “Our focus is giving Dale all the time he needs to recover.” Earnhardt told fans earlier this week on a podcast that he is experiencing nausea and balance problems.

“Jeff’s a team player,” Hendrick said in a team release Wednesday 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. Greg (Ives) and the team did a great job at New Hampshire, and they have the full support of our organization.”

Earnhardt currently sits 16th on the Chase Grid. After missing last week’s race at Loudon, he will need to apply for and be granted a Chase waiver in order to be eligible for the Chase should he win a race or qualify on points before the regular season ends at Richmond in September.

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Who thinks NASCAR probably “encouraged” HMS to secure Gordon for the 88 as opposed to Alex Bowman or Justin Allgaier?

Tim S.

I fall firmly into that camp. If they’re looking for team development, they continue with Bowman or give Allgaier a shot. Or any other Chevy-affiliated youngster. A suit worried about eyes on screens and butts in seats doubtlessly pushes for the big name. Surely the “broadcast partner” and sponsors had a hand in the encouragement also. It was a business decision, and they’re fortunate that Gordon happens to have fantastic stats at Indy so they can claim it wasn’t just business. After Indy, they can claim it’s for “continuity during the interim period” or some such stuff.

Carl D.

I’m thinking the sponsors want a marquee driver. The publicity this will generate is big. Alex Bowman… Not so much.


I don’t think he’d drive at Talladega.

Bill B

I thought the same thing about Talladega (and I hope he doesn’t).

I kind of have mixed emotions about him coming back. I liked the way he had closed the book on his career last November and, while I am looking forward to him being in the race this week, I’d have been fine if he didn’t. I guess if I were him (assuming he misses racing) I’d jump at the chance to do something I loved one more time (especially since he isn’t making any long tern commitment).

Tim S,

I see where you’re coming from, Bill B. I saw Tony Stewart win a dirt race before he ever drove a Cup car, and I would like to see him stick to being “done” in Cup next year. But if he had a chance to run at a track like Watkins Glen, where he was the man, then I would like to see that too. I never liked Gordon and still don’t, but I hope he runs well.


….Hmmmm, I wonder if this means the almost 42 year old can’t go play and party in his tree house with all his hanger on’s. Doctors orders, I would think. Dizziness and all……

Well some extra time to help plan that marriage The NASCAR EVENT OF THE DECADE……


overheard at nascar hq

flunkee: so, uh I’ve got some bad news boss

BZF – WHAT IS IT THIS TIME? Am I out of whiskey again or are the germans trying to force their way in as a manufacturer again?

flunkee no sir, I’m afraid joooonyer won’t be racing at indy or poak’nos cuz he’s ailin’

BZF je#$@ #$#%@ chr&$@% can’t those earnhardts do anything right? tell him to man up and get his candy axe in the car.

flunkee: well sir, we tired that and seems mr hendrick his piss… er… angered over your deal with the toyohtees and is supporting jooonier and callin him brave and stuff.

BZF for f$#@ sake get me a whiskey and get that helton fella in here.

enter helton stage right: sorry it took so long sir my knee pads were in the other room.

BZF helton we’ve got a problem

helton: so i hear but i’ve an idea boss.

BZF you’re gonna put wings back on the cars?

helton no boss gettin the cars upside down did nothing for the ratings, I’ve got a better idea this time, let bring back the wonder kid

BZF i thought that richmond feller was dead

helton no the other one… the kid. that gordon kid. i’ve already called him and he says that he’s maddern’ hell after sitting around being on the tee veee with jaws and wants back in a car to put the hurtin on someone.

BZF (starts singing hotel california)….. you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave…
oh this is too good. how many races you got him for?

helton well only two for now because samantha busch wont allow him to run tallydega. but our marketing department has done some market research and the numbers indicate that the ratings boost would be through the roof if we could some how get the kid, smoke and jj in a three way.

BZF (gazing with a far away look) uh.. sorry you lost me at three way.. ok let’s pull the trigger on this as long as I don’t have to go to one of these products… hey and can we get foreigner to sing the national anthem? someone get me another…..


BD!!!!!!!!!! SPOT ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can only imagine what NASCAR has in store the next few weeks starting this week to bolster their story lines to max potential! Gosh….just sad. SMH.

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