Did you miss Jeff Gordon’s farewell tour last year before he retired from driving in NASCAR? Well Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!!!, July 24, you may get your chance to see Fox Sports’ star commentator back the car. Either way, he better deliver the goods on his in-car commentary, given his new post-retirement gig.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. bowed out of racing the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet this week for an indefinite period of time after experiencing concussion-like symptoms. There is no definite timeline for his return yet as he’s focusing on recovery for the time being.
Hendrick Motorsports general manager Doug Duchardt explained in a team press release how the team plans to roll with whatever time Dale needs to heal:
I think we just want to take it one race at a time. I think putting any speculation past that is assuming that Dale is not going to be ready for that amount of time. We will obviously be thinking about contingency plans, but we don’t have anything formalized for sure past Indy.
Unfortunately, it’s still highly difficult to predict the recovery time for a traumatic brain injury even with the latest and greatest technology. So, kudos to the Hendrick team for not only keeping Dale’s seat warm for when he’s well enough to return, but for handling the news responsibly.
There is one ex-Hendrick driver and four-time Sprint Cup champion who adores racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, though, and Sprint Cup heads there next weekend for the Brickyard 400. So, Hendrick Motorsports announced today that if Earnhardt isn’t medically cleared in time to drive at IMS, Gordon will be his stand-in there.
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Gordon has the all-time record number of Sprint Cup wins at IMS, so this is a bit of a no-brainer. However, it’d be fun if we let him keep commentating the race, too.
Look, we don’t care if it’s NBC’s half of the year to broadcast Sprint Cup races. Give Gordon a running audio stream alongside the other studio talking heads and have him commentate his own race.
Dropping a series commentator back on track could make things interesting as well. Maybe Brad Keselowski or one of the other drivers who feels Gordon may have shown some bias in the commentary booth will give him an—ahem—love tap.
Either way, it should be fun to watch Gordon back in action, even if the circumstances of that return have everyone concerned for Earnhardt’s health.