Race Weekend Central

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Improving, Visits Hendrick Race Shop

Dale Earnhardt, Jr., is out for the next two races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, watching along with fans as Jeff Gordon drives his No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet. However, a recent update the 41-year-old indicates that he may be starting to see signs of recovery.

Earnhardt tweeted a brief update on his status on Friday morning, shortly before a press conference involving Gordon and Rick Hendrick.

The tweet reads: “Today is the 1st day in many that I sensed improvement. Seen small gains during my physical therapy as well. Light at the end of the tunnel.”

Asked about Earnhardt’s condition during the press conference, Hendrick noted the driver’s improvement.

“Wednesday he came by the shop, and we got to visit. He looks good; he is encouraged,” Hendrick said. “He is following the Dr.’s orders. We’re really excited. He is in great spirits. He wants to get back in the car. He wants to race, but he also knows that the regime they have him on will get him right for a long time. He’s following Dr.’s orders, but I can tell he is getting antsy. But, he is going to do what they say.  He is doing well.”

With no timetable for Earnhardt’s return, there’s potential that a substitute could be required beyond Pocono. However, Gordon didn’t indicate any desire to extend his brief return from retirement.

“Let’s not speculate.  Right now it’s through Pocono,” Gordon said.  “We were very encouraged by Dale, Jr’s tweet today and comments and the way he is feeling and hope that continues to progress and that he is back as soon as possible.  The one thing I was encouraged by when I saw him on Wednesday is his passion for racing, how much he loves being in the car and how much, like Rick said, you know he is getting antsy he wants to get back in there.  We just want him to be there when he is ready and when the doctors say he is ready.

“I will do whatever I need to do, but I’m also thinking what is going to get the team the most points and give them the best opportunity to advance into the Chase.  You’ve got the two sides.  The owner and the driver side of that.”

About the author

A graduate of Ball State, Aaron rejoins Frontstretch for his second season in 2016 following a successful year that included covering seven races and starting the popular "Two-Headed Monster" column in 2015. Now in his third year of covering motorsports, Aaron serves as an Assistant Editor for Frontstretch while also contributing to other popular sites including Speed51 and The Apex. He encourages you to come say hi when you see him at the track.

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