Jeff Gordon may come out of retirement at Indy event

Gordon, the four-time Cup champion who retired after the 2015 season, is available for driving duties as his stint as a television analysis ended when Fox Sports' portion of the schedule ended.

USA Today Sports' Jeff Gluck looks ahead to the New Hampshire 301 and the story lines that fans should keep an eye on leading up to this weekend. Also - Jeff won the first Brickyard 400 in 1994 and he still holds the record for most victories at Indy with 5.

Bob Pockrass of ESPN.com received confirmation of the backup plan from Hendrick Motorsports general manager Doug Duchardt on Friday.

Retired NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon could be making an unlikely return to the sport. It leaves his status up in the air for next week, with Alex Bowman filling the void this Sunday. It's not certain when he might return to racing.

"Yeah, just because you go to the nude beach for a couple of months doesn't mean you don't know how to put your underwear back on", Newman said, smiling.

Duchardt said the decision on who will drive the 88 in Indianapolis will be made by next Wednesday. "When Dale is ready, it's his vehicle to get back into".

In 2012, Earnhardt sat out two races after suffering two concussions within six weeks.

"I appreciate everyone's support and prayers and will miss my team terribly this weekend, " Earnhardt said on his Twitter account. "I saw a family doctor and was given medication for allergies and a sinus infection".

Earnhardt said Thursday in a statement released by the team that he initially thought the ailment to be severe allergies.

"The beginning of a year ago, I didn't expect the changeover to JGR... it was a bigger deal than I expected", Edwards said on Friday afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

It could end up being a moot point if Earnhardt is cleared to return by the middle of next week. After further evaluation, it was decided Earnhardt had to sit.

"My understanding was, Dale was told that he shouldn't race", Duchardt said. "You're the only one that knows how you're feeling. To get healed, he needed to be out of the auto".

Earnhardt is winless this season and 13th in the points standings. His eligibility for one of the 16 positions in this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup upon his return, should he be in position to qualify for a spot, would be determined by NASCAR. NASCAR has never denied a waiver request.

Before the 2014 season, NASCAR, in part because of concussion issues, instituted neurocognitive tests for all drivers in its three national series. When a driver in NASCAR can't return his damaged vehicle to the garage, a trip to the care center is required, and under a new three-step process, if a driver shows any indication of a head injury they go immediately to a hospital.

Jeff Gordon gestures during a media conference prior to the qualifying session for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race on Saturday, June 25, 2016, in Sonoma, Calif. Jeff Gordon is open to succeeding Michael Strahan as Kelly Ripa's new "Live" co-host, so long as he could continue his new job as a NASCAR analyst.

NASCAR has identified 46 total concussions in the three national series since 2004, including two previous year and four already this season.

Earnhardt had already pledged his brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation. The group works with Boston University on research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a degenerative disease that doctors believe is caused by repeated blows to the head.

Earnhardt is out this week after a recurrence of concussion-like symptoms.

The premature deaths and degenerative brain ailments reported in former National Football League stars and NHL enforcers have made athletes in all sports more aware of the frightening consequences of trying to tough it out and compete with a concussion. The New Hampshire race will be the third he has missed in his 17-year career. Now, if his former teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr. He informed the team Tuesday he wasn't feeling well and they should consider having a driver ready to spell him should he need help this weekend.

Johnson, a two-time race victor this season, could use a boost after a five-race slump where he failed to finish better than 13th. Not only that, but he also enjoyed a lot of success there, winning five times in 22 starts with an average finish inside the top 10.

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