Hendrick Motorsports General Manager Doug Duchardt announced Jeff Gordon could return to NASCAR if called upon by the team next week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, subbing for an injured Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
“I’m not going to speculate on what-ifs and all that stuff,” Duchardt said of Earnhardt’s situation during a Friday morning press conference at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “As we gain information through this, we’ll look at the scenario whether it’s short-term or long-term. We’re not sure what will happen beyond Indy.”
In a press release on Thursday, Hendrick Motorsports announced Earnhardt, 41, would miss the race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway due to concussion-like symptoms. Alex Bowman, scheduled to compete for JR Motorsports in the XFINITY Series this weekend, will replace Earnhardt this weekend. It will be Bowman’s first Sprint Cup start since competing in last year’s season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway for Tommy Baldwin Racing.
Duchardt would not confirm whether or not Earnhardt was diagnosed with a concussion, however, acknowledging that he had not spoken to the NASCAR veteran. He labeled it as a situation that is between the doctors and Earnhardt.
The timetable for the team to announce if Earnhardt will be in the car for Indianapolis is Wednesday of next week. However, there is no indication of when he could be back piloting the No. 88 for Hendrick Motorsports, with no word on how severe his symptoms are.
Gordon spent the first half of the season as a commentator for Fox Sports, calling the first 16 races of the Sprint Cup schedule. He has a track-high of five wins at the historic Brickyard. Currently, the four-time Cup Series champion is on a family trip in France with his family.
Earnhardt is not a stranger to concussion symptoms. In 2012, he was involved in a crash during a test session at Kansas Speedway. He sat out the next two events, replaced by Regan Smith.
Prior to making his return to the series, Earnhardt must pass a baseline neurocognitive test, something that all drivers must do.
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