Jeff Gordon hasn’t been retired from the track very long, and he might already be looking for a way back in; rumor has it that he might step in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the Brickyard next weekend in Indianapolis.
Earnhardt has been out of the race due to a concussion, and if he’s not cleared by doctors to get back into the number 88 car, Gordon could be just the guy he needs to take the wheel for him.
“He’s a four-time champion with 93 wins — he’s not a bad person to think about to get in the car. This week, he’s in France…. If Dale is not able to go at Indianapolis, we’ll put Jeff Gordon in the car. When Dale is ready, it’s his car to get back into,” said Hendrick Motorsports general manager Doug Duchardt last week. “We’re taking it a week at a time. Hopefully, Dale will be back next week. Jeff is a team player. He wants to support the organization. I’m sure he’ll do whatever he has to do.”
Indeed, Jeff Gordon is a prime candidate to take over if he’s available, having retired after the 2015 season with four Cup titles and 93 wins under his belt.
Although nothing has been set yet, fans will likely be eager to see the racing legend step back into his coveralls once more to help out his buddy. It’s not clear whether Earnhardt will need to take more time off, but there have been rumblings online that his history of concussions could send him into early retirement. The driver said that after a crash in 2012, he knew something wasn’t right but didn’t get checked out by a neurologist right away. It wasn’t until another racing-related accident that same year that Earnhardt went to see a doctor, who had him sit out for a couple of races.
“I remember everything about that accident and everything after that accident. But you know your body and you know how your mind works, and I knew something was just not quite right. I decided to just try to push through and work through it. I had had concussions before and thought I knew what I was dealing with,” Earnhardt said.
As far as the recent injury sustained at Kentucky Speedway, Earnhardt said that he thought at first that he was dealing with bad allergies (something Kentucky is notorious for).
“I wasn’t feeling great the week going into Kentucky and thought it was possibly severe allergies. I saw a family doctor and was given medication for allergies and a sinus infection. When that didn’t help, I decided to dig a little deeper. Because of my symptoms and my history with concussions, and after my recent wrecks at Michigan and Daytona, I reached out and met with a neurological specialist. After further evaluation, they felt it was best for me to sit out. I’m disappointed about missing New Hampshire this weekend. I’m looking forward to treatment with the goal of getting back in the race car when the doctors say I’m ready,” Earnhardt said.
If Jeff Gordon can’t step up next weekend, it’s unclear who will fill in for Earnhardt should his symptoms force him to sit out again. A decision will reportedly be announced on Wednesday regarding Dale Jr’s ability to participate. Whatever happens, there will be quite a bit of emotion at the track next weekend; besides Gordon’s potential comeback, fans will also see three-time Cup champion and Indiana native Tony Stewart behind the wheel for likely the last time in a Cup race, as he’ll be retiring after this season. It could also be a chance for Gordon to go out on a high note since he crashed last year and ended up finishing 42nd at the Brickyard.
[Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]