By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
Still ailing from concussion-like symptoms likely sustained earlier this summer at Michigan International Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will miss at least two more NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events Hendrick Motorsports announced Wednesday.
Earnhardt was not medically cleared by his doctors in his most recent visit this week, and underwent further evaluation Wednesday at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program.
Driving in place of Earnhardt this weekend at Michigan will be Alex Bowman, who drove for Earnhardt in his first missed event of the season at New Hampshire. Bowman contended for a top-10 before settling for a 27th-place finish that day.
Jeff Gordon, who has filled in over the last three races, will be back behind the wheel at Darlington Raceway for NASCAR’s Throwback Weekend. Gordon has seven-career wins at the 1.366-mile speedway in South Carolina.
Earnhardt’s missed race total will now tally six, but team owner Rick Hendrick makes it clear that the race team is behind their driver.
“We know how hard Dale is working to get back,” said Hendrick. “He’s following what the doctors are saying, to the letter, and doing exactly what he needs to do. Everyone wants to see him in a race car, but his health is first and foremost. We’re behind him.”
If Earnhardt does return after Darlington, it will leave him one race — Richmond — to nab a win and get into the Chase. Earnhardt has three-career wins at Richmond International Raceway, but it will be tough sledding shaking off the rust of missing six races, and that is if he is medically cleared following Darlington. Earnhardt was a solid top-16 point contender before sustaining his injuries, but after missing several races over the last couple of months, he now can only get into the Chase by way of a win.