Hendrick Motorsports announced Tuesday that doctors have not cleared Dale Earnhardt Jr. to compete in the next two races by what now is being termed a concussion.
He will miss Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen and the Aug. 20 race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Jeff Gordon, who will turn 45 on Thursday, will continue to fill in for Earnhardt. Gordon will make his 800th career start at Watkins Glen.
Earnhardt underwent further evaluation Tuesday at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program. Earnhardt said on his podcast Monday that he continues to experience issues with balance and gaze stabilization.
“It started very slowly, gradually and continued to progress until it stopped and stayed where it is,” he said on the Dale Jr. Download podcast. “I don’t know what that tells me about how long this process is going to be. I felt I had a good understanding of concussions in the past, but this is certainly a new one. They all have different symptoms and they all do react differently to treatment and they all have their own time and the length of the recovery is different for everyone.”
Earnhardt has missed the past three Sprint Cup races.
Earnhardt said on his podcast Monday that his doctors believe his concussion stemmed from his June 12 crash at Michigan International Speedway, though the effects weren’t obvious for weeks.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
Alex Bowman drove for Earnhardt at New Hampshire. Gordon has been in the No. 88 since.
Earnhardt is scheduled to talk to the media at noon ET Friday at Watkins Glen.