|Jeff Gordon to fill in for Dale Earnhardt Jr at Watkins Glen this week.|
“I am committed to be there for Hendrick Motorsports and this (No. 88) team in any way that they need me. I think there is a balance between trying to make this transition. First of all, you want Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) to have the comfort of knowing that somebody is there for him, so he doesn’t have to worry about that aspect of it through this process. He can just get well at the pace that is the right pace to do it. So, nobody is putting any pressure or timeframe on that. Then there is the side of who is the best person to be in the car to get the most points, and there is the sponsorship side of it as well. So far from what Rick (Hendrick) is telling me, that seems to be me.
“I am looking at this as a very temporary thing. I’m really more excited right now about my engagement at Hendrick Motorsports and helping Rick (Hendrick) and Doug Duchardt and Ken Howes and Marshall Carlson and everybody there trying to find out where we can be better, how we can be more competitive and that role in those meetings more so than driving the race car. But, being in the race car does help me do a better job with that as well.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet, will be available to members of the media on Friday, Aug. 5, at 12 p.m. ET in the Watkins Glen International 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. It will be the fourth consecutive race he has missed as he continues to recover from a concussion. Earnhardt underwent further evaluation Tuesday at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program. The driver said on his weekly The Dale Jr. Download podcast that he continues to experience issues with balance and gaze stabilization.
KEEPING ON: Four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon will drive the No. 88 Chevrolet SS for the third week in a row. Gordon, who filled in for Earnhardt at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July 24) and Pocono Raceway (Aug. 1), will compete this weekend at the newly repaved, 2.45-mile Watkins Glen road course. Gordon, who will celebrate his 45th birthday on Thursday, will fill in for Earnhardt a fourth time in the Aug. 20 event at Bristol Motor Speedway.
MILESTONE START: Gordon, who will be driving the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS at Watkins Glen, will make his 800th career NASCAR Cup Series start this weekend. He has made all 799 of his career Cup starts while driving for car owner Rick Hendrick. In addition to his four championships (1995, 1997, 1998 and 2001), Gordon has earned 93 Cup victories, which ranks him third on the all-time wins list. He’s a three-time Daytona 500 winner, a record five-time Brickyard 400 winner and has seven wins at Darlington Raceway. He has racked up 81 poles, which also ranks him third on the all-time pole award winner’s list, 325 top-five finishes, 475 top-10s and has led a total of 24,929 laps in his 24-year career.
KING OF THE ROAD: Gordon is NASCAR’s all-time leader with nine road course victories, including four at Watkins Glen, which is one shy of the track record of five held by Tony Stewart. Gordon is the all-time lap leader at the seven-turn facility with 262 laps led, 37 more than Stewart who ranks second.
AXALTA PARTNER: Axalta is able to leverage its sponsorship of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS at Hendrick Motorsports to add value for its partners. This weekend at the Glen, Axalta will have Lithia Motors Inc. on the TV panel of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS. The Oregon-based auto retailer recently expanded with the purchase of DCH Auto Group, whose name will be featured on the rear roof strip of the No. 88 Chevrolet. For more news and updates on the Axalta Racing program, visit the website: http://www.axaltaracing.com/.
TIES TO HOME: No. 88 spotter T.J. Majors, who is known for his calls of “Door. Bumper. Clear.” over the in-car radio, lists Watkins Glen International as his home track. He was born in New Castle, Pennsylvania, but grew up in East Bethany, New York, before moving to Mooresville, North Carolina, where he lives with wife Tamela and daughter Madelynn. Majors, who was introduced to Earnhardt via online iRacing in 1997, began spotting for the driver at the end of the 2007 season and has continued with the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 team since Earnhardt joined in 2008. He also spots for a variety of teams in other series, including Earnhardt’s JR Motorsports.