In sports, many tend to look at the four major sports when it comes to teammates and friendship. However, in NASCAR that takes on a whole other meaning. It was reported today that Dale Earnhardt Jr would miss the next two races due to a concussion he suffered June 12th at Michigan International Speedway. Taking his place will be his old rival, friend, and former teammate Jeff Gordon.
Gordon, retired will take the place of Earnhardt for the next two races at Watkins Glen and Bristol Motor Speedway. In sports we focus so much on the competitiveness of the game, we tend to forget the bonds that are built their competition. What Gordon is doing is not only a testament to his friend and Hendricks Motorsports but also to his character.
At 45, Gordon has done everything he could in a car and for the sport, being the face for many years, but leaving, then coming back for a friend to help him in point standings is the true nature of a good man. Earnhardt who is still experiencing issues with balance and gaze stabilization is making the right call. While many athletes like football players have suffered through concussions and still tried to play, Earnhardt has put his pride aside and thought health first.
Since missing his last few starts, Earnhardt has fallen to 20th with 461 points, meaning either he or Gordon must win one of the five remaining races to guarantee him a spot in the Sprint Chase. If Gordon can pull off a victory in either of the next two races, the pressure will be off Earnhardt when he returns. If Gordon is unable to help his friend, Earnhardt will be placed in a tough situation when he returns, needing to win one of three races.
For a veteran, that’s a challenge but for a driver with his competitive drive coming off a concussion that may be too much. Either way, this plays out Earnhardt will always know that he has a real friend in Gordon.