The announcement came Wednesday, July 20, 2016, from Hendrick Motorsports, which said Earnhardt has not been cleared by doctors to drive. Jeff Gordon is coming out of retirement to fill in for his old Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr., in the No. 88 car. Earnhardt is recovering from concussion-like symptoms in the wake of big crashes at Michigan and Daytona this year. He also sat out last weekend's race in New Hampshire while a member of his JR Motorsports Xfinity Series team, Alex Bowman, took his place, finishing 26th. Indiana native Gordon will drive in the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis this weekend, and the Pennsylvania 400 on July 31st.
Kyle Busch won the Brickyard 400 on Sunday to make it clean sweep at Indianapolis. He led a race-record 149 of the 170 laps and beat Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth to the finish line by 2.126 seconds. Jimmie Johnson was third, 2.638 seconds behind the defending Sprint Cup champ -- thanks to the double overtime forced by three late crashes. Busch became the first NASCAR driver to sweep the Xfinity Series and Cup poles and races on the same weekend. He also joined Johnson as the only Cup drivers with back-to-back wins on Indy' 2.5-mile oval.
A pair of aviation accidents in a span of 102 days altered NASCAR by claiming two stars in their prime. Alan Kulwicki and Davey Allison died just over three months apart during the 1993 season, which also happened to be Jeff Gordon's rookie year. Kulwicki was the reigning Cup champion at the time of his death and Allison the best bet to end Dale Earnhardt's reign. The verdict was out on Gordon, an outsider from the West Coast who had come from sprint cars to make his mark on a predominantly Southern sport. Wherever Gordon was headed in NASCAR, Allison and Kulwicki were going to be in his path.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. got the replacement he wanted. Alex Bowman got his dream job. Hendrick Motorsports announced Thursday that the 24-year-old Bowman will replace one of the series' biggest stars in the No. 88 car next season after Earnhardt retires. Bowman has big shoes to fill. Earnhardt was named NASCAR's most popular driver each of the last 14 seasons and fans of his late father often tracked Junior's results following Dale Earnhardt's fatal crash in the 2001 season opener at Daytona.
Jeff Gordon may not be done racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series after all. Hendrick Motorsports announced Friday morning that if the concussion-like symptoms that sidelined Dale Earnhardt Jr. for this Sunday's New Hampshire 301 continue to linger, causing him to sit out a second consecutive race next Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Gordon will take Earnhardt's place behind the wheel of the No. 88 Chevrolet. General manager @DougDuchardt states that @JeffGordonWeb will replace @DaleJr at Indy if he is not cleared to race. Gordon, a four-time NASCAR Premier Series champion, retired at the end of last year and is a FOX Sports analyst on NASCAR television broadcasts. Hendrick Motorsports announced that Earnhardt was sitting out this Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after experiencing the conussion-like symptoms following crashes recently at Michigan and again at Daytona.