CONCORD, N.C.— This weekend, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
And the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS will have four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon substituting for Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the first of two consecutive races.
Earnhardt has not been cleared by physicians to compete in at least the next two races as he continues to recover from concussion-like symptoms.
“First and foremost, the main goal right now is to make sure Dale 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,” No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives said. “Our thoughts are with him through all the testing and waiting that he has to go through.”
Gordon is familiar with kissing the bricks during Victory Lane celebrations at Indianapolis. The 44-year-old driver has the most Cup Series wins in history at the Brickyard.
Tune in this Sunday to catch all the action, but before you do, take a look at the key notes to keep in mind before the green flag waves at Indianapolis.
BROADCAST INFORMATION: Sunday’s race will air live on NBCSN at 3:00 p.m. ET. Can’t make it to the television? Listen to the race live on IMS and SiriusXM to catch the radio coverage. Here is the full broadcast schedule:
Friday, July 22:
1:30 p.m. ET: Sprint Cup Series Practice, NBC Sports Network
4:00 p.m. ET: Sprint Cup Series Final Practice, NBC Sports Network
Saturday, July 23:
1:30 p.m. ET: Sprint Cup Series Qualifying, NBC Sports Network
Sunday, July 24:
3:00 p.m. ET: Sprint Cup Series Race, NBC Sports Network/IMS/SiriusXM
THIS WEEK’S PAINT SCHEMES: Kasey Kahne will pilot the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS at Indianapolis. NAPA AUTO PARTS will be the primary partner on board Rookie of the Year contender Chase Elliott’s No. 24 Chevrolet SS and Jimmie Johnson will be running the Lowe’s Red Vest Chevrolet SS. Gordon will drive the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS this weekend at the 2.5-mile oval track.
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT INDIANAPOLIS: Hendrick Motorsports has won nine of the 22 Sprint Cup races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Gordon's five wins are the most all-time, and Johnson's four rank second among all drivers. The organization has also earned five pole positions, 24 top-five finishes and 38 top-10 finishes in addition to 1,010 laps led.
KAHNE AT INDY: Kahne is fourth among active drivers for laps led at the 2.5-mile track with 158. His best finish at the Speedway, Indiana, track is second, which he accomplished in only his second start at the venue. In two of Kahne’s last three starts at Indianapolis he has earned a top-10 finish – third in 2013 and sixth in 2014.
KISSING THE BRICKS: Elliott had an opportunity to kiss the bricks after a Brickyard 400 victory once before; however, the now 20-year-old driver was only 6 at the time. Elliott’s father, Bill Elliott, captured the checkered flag at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2002 with the younger Elliott watching from the pit wall outside of Gasoline Alley. Now, as Elliott looks back on one of the only trips to Victory Lane that he remembers with his dad, one thing stands out – Elliott did not kiss the bricks. Elliott is seen in several of the photographs standing in the background while his father carried on the tradition, but if he wins this weekend it will be Elliott’s first time kissing the legendary bricks.
FOUR-TIME BRICK-KISSER: Johnson has won the prestigious Brickyard 400 four times in his career. His first win came in the 2006 season, followed by back-to-back wins in 2008 and 2009. He is the only driver to have ever recorded consecutive wins. Johnson’s latest win at the Brickyard was in 2012. Johnson’s four wins are one less than Jeff Gordon’s five for most wins at the track.
EARNHARDT UPDATE: Indianapolis will mark the second consecutive event Earnhardt 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: 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.