CONCORD, N.C. – Yesterday on “The Dale Jr. Download” podcast, Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he’s staying patient with his recovery from concussion-like symptoms, following his doctors’ orders to a T.
In the meantime, he is finding the silver lining in his current circumstance.
“As unfortunate as the situation is, we need to try to gain something out of it,” he said.
That gain has been the substitution of Jeff Gordon as the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet SS last week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and again next week at Pocono Raceway.
“It's awesome having a guy with his experience step in,” Earnhardt said. “Getting a different driver in there that thinks differently, feels things differently, is a great way to get new information. So I was excited for (No. 88 team crew chief) Greg (Ives) and I think this is really helping our team.”
He said that was already apparent Sunday in the Brickyard 400, when Gordon and the No. 88 team worked together to take home a 13th-place result.
And he anticipates that things will only get better with another race under their belts this coming weekend.
“Jeff had a lot of great ideas and thoughts about the team,” Earnhardt noted. “I think another week with those guys at Pocono will be interesting and I can't wait to keep talking to him and debriefing with him throughout the week on what he thinks about the team, what he thinks I can do better and how the team can get better.”
Overall, Earnhardt said he can tell the team has been excited about the opportunity to work with Gordon. And he has admired how much the fill-in driver has kept him in the loop.
"I appreciate Jeff," he said. "He's just such a professional and he's reaching out to me. It's interesting how plugged in he is and trying to do the best he can even if he's just in there for a few races."
After the race at Indianapolis, Earnhardt took to Twitter to thank Gordon for all that he has done for the No. 88 team already.
And just as much, he is proud of his No. 88 teammates for sticking together through a tough situation.
“I'm real proud of them and I miss being able to see them and work with them,” he said. “I miss the people more than the driving, to be honest with you. The friendships and the relationships that we have at the racetrack are more valuable to me than anything. So I miss that part the most.”
As he continues to work to get back on the track, Earnhardt has enjoyed seeing how much the No. 88 team has been able to gain from the current predicament, once again finding the bright side along the way.
“It's pretty fun to see it happening and try to learn from it,” he said. “I'm trying to stay plugged in and in communication with them as we go so that I'm up to speed and when I get back in the car it's real seamless."
Check out the full podcast here.