Hendrick Motorsports announced Wednesday morning that Earnhardt, who was forced to sit out last Saturday’s New Hampshire 301, still had not been cleared to race and will sit out at least the next two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events.
Jeff Gordon, who retired from full-time racing in 2015, will serve as the No. 88 car’s substitute driver at the Brickyard 400 on Sunday, July 24, and the Pennsylvania 400 on Sunday, July 31.
Doug Duchardt, general manager at Hendrick Motorsports, told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that Earnhardt underwent concussion protocols at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center following his latest injury. He first visited the center back in 2012 when he suffered two concussion six weeks apart, according to NASCAR.com.
Earnhardt has since visited the Hendricks Motorsports team, Duchardt said.
“When you talk to him, he’s the same Dale,” Duchardt said. “It was good to see him; it was good to have him in the shop.”
Though Duchardt couldn’t say when Earnhardt would return, his outlook was optimistic.
“I think he’s on the mend,” Duchardt said, “and when the doctors say he’s ready, we’ll be ready to put him back in the car.”
Earlier in the day, Tradin’ Paint hosts Jim Noble and Chocolate Myers reacted to the news shortly after it broke.
“I think this may be the biggest story of the year so far,” Noble said. “The combination of the sport’s most popular driver sitting out races with his future in doubt. As if that weren’t important enough…it’s Jeff freakin’ Gordon!”
Choc, on the other hand, reacted by pushing back on criticisms aimed at Gordon for returning to racing after retiring only last year.
“You would think the world is coming to an end,” Choc said. “I think if we get Jeff Gordon to come back in and run a race or two, what’s the problem?”
Earnhardt said on his podcast this week that he was “experiencing issues with balance and nausea,” according to his team’s statement.
“Our focus is giving Dale all the time he needs to recover,” Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick said in the statement. “There’s nothing we want more than to see him back in the race car, but we’ll continue to listen to the doctors and follow their lead.”
Earnhardt will not travel to Indianapolis or Pocono.
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