After missing six races while recovering from a concussion, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will miss the remainder of the 2016 season as he continues his recovery. On Friday, Hendrick Motorsports announced that Earnhardt had not been medically cleared to race for the final 12 races of the year.
“I wish I could return to the No. 88 team this season. To say I’m disappointed doesn’t begin to describe how I feel, but I know this is the right thing for my long-term health and career. I’m 100 percent focused on my recovery, and I will continue to follow everything the doctors tell me. They’re seeing good progress in my test results, and I’m feeling that progress physically. I plan to be healthy and ready to compete at Daytona in February. I’m working toward that,” said Earnhardt, Jr.
“The support from both inside and outside the race team has been overwhelming. Everyone has been so encouraging and positive, from my teammates and sponsors to my family, friends and fans. It’s motivating and humbling at the same time.”
“I know how hard Dale has worked and how frustrating this is for him. He wants to be back, and we want him back, but we want it to be for the long haul. We’ve had incredible support from everyone involved with the team, including all of our sponsors. They’ve put Dale’s health first every step of the way,” said Rick Hendrick.
Since being sidelined prior to New Hampshire, both Alex Bowman and Jeff Gordon have served in a relief capacity for Earnhardt, which will continue over the next 12 weeks. Gordon has raced in four of the six events thus far, with Bowman racing in the other two. Going forward, Gordon will pilot the No. 88 Chevrolet at Darlington, Richmond, Dover, and Martinsville, while Bowman will drive at Chicagoland, New Hampshire, Charlotte, Kansas, Talladega, Texas, Phoenix, and Homestead.
“Jeff and Alex will give us a great opportunity over the rest of the season. Jeff is one of the best of all time and knows our system. He brings things to the table that no one else can. Alex is a young driver with a lot of talent, and he will give us a fresh perspective. We know they’re not only capable of running up front and giving us a chance to win, but they’ll help us get better,” said Hendrick.