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Dale Jr . sidelined for next two Sprint Cup races
RELATED: Latest updates, timeline on Dale Jr .'s recovery Dale Earnhardt Jr . will not be behind the wheel of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for the next two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, including this weekend's event at Michigan International Speedway , according to a Wednesday news release from Hendrick Motorsports . Earnhardt did not receive medical clearance to return to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition, according to the team. He will be replaced this weekend in the No. 88 driver's seat by Alex Bowman , who drives part time for the Earnhardt-owned JR Motorsports team in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, and next weekend at Darlington Raceway by four-time series champ Jeff Gordon . "We know how hard Dale is working to get back," team owner Rick Hendrick said in a press release. "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." Earnhardt has been sidelined by concussion-related symptoms for the last five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. The two-time Daytona 500 winner has been keeping fans updated on his progress in recent weeks via social media and "The Dale Jr . Download" on Dirty Mo Radio. The Sprint Cup Series makes its second visit of the season to Michigan International Speedway this weekend, which culminates with Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Earnhardt said that the effects of a crash June 12 in the most recent Michigan race played a factor in his current concussion-related ailment. Gordon, interim driver of the No. 88 for the last four races, indicated last weekend that should an Earnhardt replacement be needed this weekend, a previous engagement would keep him out of the driver's seat. Bowman, 23, subbed in at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last month for the first race of Earnhardt's absence, finishing 26th after a late-race crash knocked him from the fringes of the top 10. Gordon is a seven-time winner at Darlington and will pilot the retro No. 88 Chevrolet, which honors the "Gray Ghost" paint scheme of Buddy Baker. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Dale Earnhardt Jr . injury timeline
Dale Earnhardt Jr . will miss NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Michigan International Speedway and Darlington Raceway as he continues to recover from concussion-like symptoms. Dale Jr . had previously missed races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway , Indianapolis Motor Speedway , Pocono Raceway , Watkins Glen International and Bristol Motor Speedway . Alex Bowman (New Hampshire and Michigan) and four-time champion Jeff Gordon (Indianapolis, Pocono, Watkins Glen, Bristol and Darlington) are filling in for him in the No. 88 Chevrolet. Stay up-to-date on Dale Jr .'s injury and recovery through the timeline of events below.
Earnhardt Jr . out through Darlington
NASCAR.com's Jonathan Merryman brings you Up To Speed on the news that Alex Bowman and Jeff Gordon will fill in for Dale Earnhardt Jr . at MIS and Darlington.
Hornish Jr . to fill in for McDowell at Michigan
CONCORD, N.C. (August 23, 2016) – Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing (CSLFR) has announced that Sam Hornish Jr . will fill in for Michael McDowell on Friday and Saturday during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekend at Michigan International Speedway . McDowell is scheduled to race in the NASCAR XFINITY Series at Road America for Richard Childress Racing on Friday and Saturday. He will then travel to Michigan International Speedway and drive the No. 95 Thrivent Financial Chevrolet on Sunday in the Pure Michigan 400 for Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing .
1987 Winston: Where Are They Now?
RELATED: Elliott will 'never forget' Earnhardt move The starting grid for the 1987 Winston All-Star Race looked a lot like an exhibit befitting the NASCAR Hall of Fame. This was The All-Star Race for the ages. Hall of Famers Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Bobby Allison, Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, Terry Labonte, Rusty Wallace and Bill Elliott all competed. Greats such as Neil Bonnett, Harry Gant, Ricky Rudd, Buddy Baker, and Benny Parsons were on the 20-driver starting grid, too. A young Davey Allison and a new Daytona 500 winner Geoffrey Bodine lined up alongside these iconic names. The fast and famed Tim Richmond was on the grid, too, in what was his final season of NASCAR competition. And don't forget about Kyle Petty, Bobby Hillin Jr . and Greg Sacks. The only driver on that famed All-Star lineup still NASCAR racing today is Morgan Shepherd, who drove a car fielded by drag racing legend Kenny Bernstein -- and his seventh-place finish that day in his first All-Star Race remains his best showing. That starting lineup was a true convergence of NASCAR's best -- sentimental favorites, crusty veterans, future Hall of Famers and young stars out to make their big names. It had personality. It had top-line credentials. In only its third running, the 1987 race showed exactly the pizzazz that would help forge the All-Star Race into the can't-miss annual event that will be on full display Saturday in the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway . For all its historical allure, amazingly in that famed 1987 race only four drivers even led a lap -- the winner Earnhardt (10), the day's dominant driver Elliott (121), Bodine (3) and Kyle Petty (1). The great seven-time Cup champ Richard Petty crashed with the late superstar Neil Bonnett on Lap 66. As dominant and successful as Petty was, it's easy to forget he never won an All-Star Race. Among the most memorable aspects of this race will undoubtedly be the day's winner Earnhardt's "Pass in the Grass" of Elliott. It wasn't actually a pass at all, but Earnhardt maneuvering to hold onto his late race lead over Elliott in the day's most dominant car. It was the first of three All-Star wins for Earnhardt. And the gritty, hard-nosed final laps racing launched this -- then still young -- event into a bona fide can't-miss rite of spring. The above photo itself has become quite a piece of NASCAR lore. When this group of 20 drivers came together for this indelible image, these are the numbers they would leave behind: 812 premier series victories, 26 premier series championships, 11 All-Star Race wins ... and one urban legend.
When Jeff met Junior: Gordon recalls first meeting with Dale Jr .
RELATED: Latest updates, timeline of Dale Jr .'s recovery BRISTOL, Tenn. -- The first time he met Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Jeff Gordon never imagined that he would one day drive in relief for his Hendrick Motorsports teammate. Yet here Saturday night, Gordon will do just that, suiting up for the fourth consecutive race to drive the organization's No. 88 Chevrolet in place of Earnhardt in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Earnhardt has been sidelined since mid-July due to concussion-like symptoms and the timing of his return has yet to be determined. Their first meeting came in the mid 1990s at North Wilkesboro Speedway when Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Earnhardt Jr .'s father, were at the top of their game. The elder Earnhardt was already a legendary figure in the sport; Gordon was on his way to becoming one. The cheering and jeering of the Earnhardt and Gordon fans was a weekly occurrence at tracks across the country. That the two would go on to become both friends and business associates seemed unfathomable to those in the grandstands. "I remember sitting there on pit road and Dale Sr. and he came walking by … it was the first time I ever met (Junior)," Gordon told NASCAR.com recently. "They were getting ready to qualify; I don't remember if he was driving a Late Model maybe … I don't exactly remember but I knew he'd been doing some racing and was building some momentum. "I remember that he was very respectful. It was cool to meet him and then shortly after that see him rise as quick as he did." Gordon "retired" from competition at the end of 2015, with four series titles and 93 career victories. The last time he visited Bristol, he was working in the television booth, just two months into his new role as a FOX NASCAR analyst. RELATED: Remembering some of the top moments at Bristol Now, he's back behind the wheel at a track where he notched five wins and five of 81 career poles. Hendrick officials announced July 14 that doctors had not cleared Earnhardt Jr . to compete the following weekend at New Hampshire. Alex Bowman stepped in and finished 26th in his only start with the team. Gordon took over the driving duties for races at Indianapolis (13th ), Pocono (27th ) and most recently Watkins Glen (14th ). Getting back in the car, and the No. 88 in particular, was an unusual feeling for Gordon although the 45-year-old certainly garnered his share of the spotlight throughout his career. "I knew it was a big story," he said of the return, "but still until you’re living it and the reality of it is there, you don't know how your heart's going to beat, how your hands are going to sweat. That first time on track at Indy, I was sweating. And not just because of the heat. "It would be different if I had been out for one week or two weeks. But I'd been out for eight months. I hadn't really driven this package. There's added pressure because of the situation, it being Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s car. To me the pressure was more about the performance." Earnhardt, who also missed two races in 2012 after suffering a concussion, is a two-time champion in NASCAR’s XFINITY Series and has 26 Sprint Cup victories. His absence from competition has seen him fall from 13th to 21st in the points standings. His move to the XFINITY Series (then Busch Grand National) is one Gordon hasn't forgotten either. Earnhardt made one start in the series '96 and eight in '97 before going full-time the following season. "I went to see Dale Sr. about some business and he said 'Hey come check out Dale Jr .'s car for Watkins Glen," Gordon said. "… I looked at the car and remember it wasn't fancy, wasn't some super premium piece of equipment. The shifter on it was so long. Total old school. At that point we had been making really nice transmissions, road course cars, short shifters and all those things." Gordon said he took the opportunity for a bit of friendly ribbing. "I gave Senior a hard time," he said. "I was like 'What's this? You're going to make him go to Watkins Glen in this? That shifter is just wrong. This car is not at all what he deserves.'" Earnhardt wasn't swayed by the comments, according to Gordon. "He goes, 'Oh no. I'm going to make him work for it. He's not going to have it easy; he's going to work on it himself. I'm not going give him the best equipment. He's not going to learn anything being in the best equipment. He's going to have to drive some mediocre equipment so he can learn.' "And I thought that was pretty cool." &amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;
Wallace Jr . reflects on top-ten finish at Bristol
Darrell Wallace Jr . talks about his night at Bristol after finishing 7th in the Food City 300.
Dale Jr . to be at Watkins Glen, meet with media
RELATED: Dale Jr . updates fans on his plans for future " Junior's injury timeline Dale Earnhardt Jr ., sidelined since early July by concussion-like symptoms, will be at Watkins Glen International on Friday as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams begin preparations for Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at The Glen. The Hendrick Motorsports driver will not be back behind the wheel of the familiar No. 88 Chevrolet but he is scheduled to meet with members of the media at noon ET Friday. The event will be live streamed on NASCAR.com. Press Pass: Stream Earnhardt Jr .'s interview Friday at noon It will be his first appearance at a track since he finished 13th at Kentucky Speedway on July 9. Five days after that race, HMS officials announced he had not been cleared by doctors to return to competition. Alex Bowman handled the driving duties for the team the following week at New Hampshire. Jeff Gordon , four-time Sprint Cup Series champion and winner of 93 Sprint Cup events, took over at Indianapolis and Pocono, and will remain the team's driver this weekend at The Glen as well as at Bristol on Aug. 20. Gordon, who retired from competing after the 2015 season, has nine career road-course victories, including four at The Glen. Sunday's race will mark career start No. 800 for the 45-year-old. MORE: Gordon through the years Earnhardt's continued absence from the car was announced Aug. 2. Team owner Rick Hendrick said missing the Watkins Glen race, followed by an off-week for the series "will certainly be a benefit." "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," he said. "We'll keep our focus on that and let the doctors guide us." Earnhardt has fallen from 13th to 20th in the series points standings. He has yet to win this year, meaning if he returns before the start of this season's Chase for the Sprint Cup , he would need either a victory or the points necessary to earn a berth in the 10-race playoff. &lt;/p&gt;
Hornish Jr ., Ty Dillon lead Friday practices at Mid-Ohio
PRACTICE 2 " Results Sam Hornish Jr . led the final XFINITY Series practice at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Friday afternoon, posting a speed of 95.977 mph. Hornish was second-fastest in today's opening session. Ryan Reed came up short to the No. 2 driver, posting a high speed of 95.596 mph. Nelson Piquet Jr . (95.255 mph), Ryan Blaney (95.225 mph) and series points leader Elliott Sadler (94.959 mph) complete the fastest five drivers on the leaderboard. Friday's first practice leader, Ty Dillon , brought out a caution during the final session when his No. 3 Chevrolet made contact with a tire barrier in Turn 9. Dillon finished the practice run sixth-fastest (94.845 mph). The XFINITY Series returns to the road course one more time on Friday for Coors Light Pole Qualifying at 6:15 p.m. ET (USA/NBC Sports App). PRACTICE 1 " RESULTS Ty Dillon was the fastest in Friday's NASCAR XFINITY Series opening practice at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with a speed of 96.087 mph. The Richard Childress Racing driver's fastest lap came on his 16th and final run on the road course. Sam Hornish Jr . was second-fastest to Dillon with a speed of 94.865 mph. Brandon Jones (94.564 mph), Brendan Gaughan (94.553 mph) and Ryan Blaney (94.207 mph) were the remaining of the top-five fastest, respectively. Daniel Suarez sustained major damage to the right-rear of his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota after getting into the wall during first practice. Suarez posted a top speed of 93.927 mph, making him ninth-fastest for the first session. Owen Kelly , driving the No. 18 JGR Toyota, appeared to have engine issues during the opening session. Kelly clocked in 11th-fastest (93.819 mph).
Sam Hornish Jr . sets track record, earns Coors Light Pole at Mid-Ohio
RELATED: Results Sam Hornish Jr . won the Coors Light Pole Award Friday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course , setting a track speed record as well. Hornish Jr . wheeled his No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet around the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course in Lexington, Ohio, at a track record-setting 96.755 mph in the opening session of qualifying. In the second and final session, with a fast lap of 96.374 mph, he sealed the first starting spot in the Mid-Ohio Challenge (3:30 p.m. ET, USA Network, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). "The fact that we're here. We're as good as we have been really is hats off to RCR and all the people that work on the Rheem No. 2 car," the polesitter said post-qualifying. "Right off the bat, this morning I was kind of worried about it being a little bit rusty. It's been a little while since I've been on a road course." This marks Hornish's eighth career pole and first of 2016. Sharing the front row will be Owen Kelly , a road specialist who reached 95.877 mph in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Ryan Blaney , (95.739 mph in No. 22 Team Penske Ford), Elliott Sadler (95.675 mph, No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet) and Daniel Suarez (95.613 mph, No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) completed the top five, respectively.