|Jeff Gordon is 20/1 to win for sixth time at Brickyard on Sunday.|
“First and foremost, the main goal right now is to make sure Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) is on the proper path to recovery and that he doesn’t have the stress of having to return to the car before he is completely ready. Our thoughts are with him through all the testing and waiting that he has to go through.
“As far as going to Indy with Jeff Gordon, it’s definitely going to be a little bit of a different atmosphere. With him coming back for the two fill-in races, there is going to be a lot of media attention, especially in his home state, so we’ll just need to concentrate and focus on the task at hand. We are getting to work with one of the most iconic figures in NASCAR, who has helped get the sport to where it is today.”
Ives on prepping the car for Gordon at Indianapolis
“The difference from what we had to prep for with Alex (Bowman) last week is that Alex fit in Dale’s seat and we didn’t have to make a lot of adjustments to the steering wheel, headrests or seatbelts. But with Jeff (Gordon), we already know all of his dimensions and have the seats, seatbelts and everything that he felt comfortable in when he ran the last race at Homestead in 2015, so we were able to have access to all that. Everyone in the 5/24 shop, the 48/88 shop and the composite shop have all been able to work together so we have the ability to get Jeff’s seat and everything in the car just exactly the way he last remembered it."
Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick and Jeff Gordon, substitute driver of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Friday, July 22, at 10:30 a.m. ET in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway media center.
EARNHARDT UPDATE: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet SS for Hendrick Motorsports, has not been cleared by physicians to compete in at least the next two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events as he continues to recover from concussion-like symptoms. He will miss the races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July 24) and Pocono Raceway (July 31). Indianapolis will mark the second consecutive event he will miss after not competing Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Earnhardt underwent further evaluation Tuesday at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program. The driver said this week on his “The Dale Jr. Download” podcast that he has been experiencing issues with balance and nausea. He will not travel to Indianapolis or Pocono. A timetable has not yet been established for his return.
GORDON RETURNS: Four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon will return to step in for Earnhardt and drive the No. 88 Chevrolet SS at both Indianapolis and Pocono. Gordon, who grew up in nearby Pittsboro, Indiana, most recently raced in the 2015 Sprint Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway and started a new role in the broadcast booth with FOX this season, in addition to continuing his role as an equity owner of Hendrick Motorsports. Gordon has made all 797 of his career Cup starts for car owner Rick Hendrick. He competed in his 23rd and final full-time Sprint Cup Series season in 2015.
TOPS AT INDY: Gordon, driver of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS, leads the following NASCAR Sprint Cup Series statistical categories at Indianapolis Motor Speedway: wins (five), poles (three), top-five finishes (12, five more than any other driver), top-10s (17, six more than second) and laps led (528). Gordon is also the youngest Cup Series winner at the 2.5-mile oval, having earned his first victory there on Aug. 6, 1994, when he was just 23 years and two days old.
TIED WITH SCHUMACHER: The 44-year-old driver’s five victories at the Brickyard are tied with former Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher for most among drivers at the famed speedway. Gordon visited Victory Lane in the inaugural event in 1994 and again in 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2014 on the 2.5-mile oval. Schumacher’s wins occurred on the road-course layout at the historic track.
AXALTA: Gordon will fill in starting during a week when the familiar yellow, orange and red Axalta colors will adorn the No. 88 Chevy. Axalta, formerly known as DuPont Performance Coatings, was a 23-year partner on Gordon’s famed No. 24 Chevrolet, and he continues to have a role with the company as its global ambassador. As part of its business-to-business marketing model, Axalta will place one of its vendors, Precoat Metals, on the TV panel of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS at Indy. Precoat Metals is a leading supplier of coil coating services. For more news and updates on the Axalta Racing program, check out their new website: http://www.axaltaracing.com/.
BOWMAN RECAP: Last weekend in Loudon, New Hampshire, Alex Bowman filled in for Earnhardt and drove the No. 88 Nationwide Chevy to a 26th-place finish. The result didn’t reflect Bowman’s efforts, as he was running solidly inside the top 10 before a flat tire caused him to make contact with the outside wall. Bowman, who races part-time for Earnhardt’s JR Motorsports team in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, was making his fifth Sprint Cup start at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He also drove the No. 88 for JR Motorsports in Saturday’s XFINITY race, earning an eighth-place finish.
TEAM CHEVY STAGE: Gordon will be at the Team Chevy stage alongside teammate Johnson for a question-and-answer session in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway infield on Sunday, July 24, at 12:05 p.m. local time.
THE LINEMAKERS' MICAH ROBERTS ON GORDON'S ODDS
FIELD 20/1 - Usually, this is terrible bet, but because of Jeff Gordon being part of it, it's a now great bet. Sure, he hasn't raced since November, but he's got a solid car that was set-up well enough to finish second at Pocono in June. Gordon has his own personal knowledge of the track, he has Johnson's notes from last weeks test and has a track record 12 top-five finishes, including winning the inaugural race in 1994. This will be the most popular bet of the week in Las Vegas sports books every where and 20-to-1 will be long gone by the time practices begin Friday. So if you like him, bet it now.