CONCORD, N.C. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. will miss the next two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events as he continues to recover from a concussion, having not been cleared by doctors to resume racing.
Earnhardt will sit out races at Watkins Glen International (Aug. 7) and Bristol Motor Speedway (Aug. 20), and Jeff Gordon will be the team’s substitute driver for both races.
Gordon will make his 800th career NASCAR Cup start at Watkins Glen on Sunday. He is NASCAR’s all-time leader with nine road course victories, including four at Watkins Glen. The four-time series champion has made all 799 of his career Cup starts while driving for car owner Rick Hendrick.
Gordon, who will turn 45 on Thursday, also filled in for Earnhardt on July 24 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Aug. 1 at Pocono Raceway.
“We have a break in the schedule after Watkins Glen, so the extra week of recovery time will certainly be a benefit,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “Dale will be back when he’s ready, and we’re looking forward to that happening, but the priority continues to be his health and well-being. We’ll keep our focus on that and let the doctors guide us.”
Earnhardt underwent further evaluation at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program.
The driver said Monday on his weekly podcast that he continues to experience issues with balance and gaze stabilization.
“The balance is up and down,” Earnhardt said. “The main issue I have is called ‘gaze stability.’ And that’s the main problem. That is what I believe is tied to the balance, the gaze issue and the problem with my eyes being able to fix on an object at a great distance. And stay there with head movement. That’s the problem. When I move my head I lose the object I’m trying to target.”
CREDIT: Hendrick Motorsports