Friday, January 19, 2018
Sports

Team owner Rick Hendrick hopeful Dale Earnhardt Jr. returns at Brickyard

LOUDON, N.H. — Team owner Rick Hendrick said he does not think the concussion symptoms that sidelined Dale Earnhardt Jr. are career-threatening. Hendrick hopes to have NASCAR's most popular driver back in the car next week at the Brickyard.

Earnhardt, 41, sat out Sunday's Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire because he was not cleared.

"If there was something major wrong, I think (doctors) would have seen it already," Hendrick said. "I'm very hopeful. He's very hopeful. I think the doctors want to err on the side of being sure. We want him for a long time."

Earnhardt will have more tests early this week. Hendrick Motorsports will likely decide on his availability on Wednesday.

"Dale is special to me, take the driving part away," Hendrick said. "I just want him to feel good when he gets back in the car. I don't want him to push himself."

Four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon will come out of retirement and drive the No. 88 next week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway if Earnhardt, 41, does not return. Hendrick says Gordon, 44, will likely remain in the car should Earnhardt need an extended absence.

IndyCar: Will Power used pit strategy at Indy Toronto for his third win this season, drawing closer to Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud in the title race. Power, who missed the opener in St. Petersburg because he was ill, got within 47 points of Pagenaud after outdueling another Penske teammate, Helio Castroneves, down the stretch on Toronto's downtown streets. Power pitted on Lap 57 of 85 and was in position to take advantage when a caution came out moments later, ruining pole-sitter Scott Dixon's strategy. Dixon (56 laps led) dominated up to that point. But he, Pagenaud and five others had yet to pit, so when they stopped under yellow, they were stuck in traffic. Dixon finished eighth, one spot ahead of Pagenaud.

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