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CONCORD, N.C. (AP) – Dale Earnhardt Jr. will miss at least two more races while he recovers from a concussion.

Earnhardt, who skipped the last three races, will sit out at Watkins Glen International on Sunday and at Bristol Motor Speedway on Aug. 20. Four-time series champion Jeff Gordon, who came out of retirement to fill in for Earnhardt the last two weeks, will remain behind the wheel in the No. 88 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.

The team made the announcement Tuesday, saying Earnhardt hasn’t been cleared to race.

“We have a break in the schedule after Watkins Glen, so the extra week of recovery time will certainly be a benefit,” team owner Rick Hendrick said in a statement. “Dale will be back when he’s ready, and we’re looking forward to that happening, but the priority continues to be his health and well-being. We’ll keep our focus on that and let the doctors guide us.”

Earnhardt underwent further evaluation Monday at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program. The driver said on his weekly podcast that he continues to experience issues with balance and gaze stabilization – the ability to focus on an object while he moves his head.

Earnhardt gave no timetable for his return and said doctors have told his concussion occurred June 12 at Michigan International Speedway. He drove three races after that one.

“I’d love to race more,” Earnhardt said on his “Dirty Mo Radio” internet network. “In my mind, my plan is to race more. I have plans to keep going. I’ll worry about that when I’m well.

“I’ll talk to my doctors and say, ‘What do I have left as far as the racing?’ My doctors are confident that they can make me stronger than I was before this event.”

Gordon subbed for Earnhardt at Indianapolis and Pocono, finishing 13th and 27th. His next start will be the 800th of his Cup career.

Gordon, who turns 45 this week, is NASCAR’s all-time leader in road-course victories with nine, including four at Watkins Glen. He has five wins at Bristol.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – All week, Tony Stewart downplayed the significance of his final race at Indianapolis.

He promised not to cry, not to get sentimental.

When the Brickyard 400 ended Sunday, he backtracked a bit by inviting current friend and former rival Jeff Gordon to share one final lap with him at their home track. They drove slowly around the 2.5-mile oval, side-by-side, waving to the fans who had cheered them for so many years.

“It’s probably the last time we’ll be competing here, and I couldn’t think of a better guy to share that moment with,” Stewart said after finishing 11th.

Not long ago, that kind of scene seemed an impossibility.

Stewart’s fierce, sometimes temperamental personality often clashed with Gordon’s generally good-natured, low-key demeanor to life and racing.

But over the past five years, the two Indiana drivers with similar backgrounds developed a bond and became close enough friends that they wanted to add another memorable chapter to the long history at this 2.5-mile oval.

The day began with a heartfelt speech from Gordon at the drivers’ meeting, in which he thanked Stewart for the impact he has had on the sport. When Gordon finished, Stewart received a standing ovation.

Later, Stewart returned the favor.

“It meant the world to me you know I don’t know how that all came about. Someone said something to me about Tony would like to do something like that and I said, ‘Well, let’s get through this last restart first,'” Gordon said. “It meant the world to me to have a friend and a competitor (want to do that).”

Both former Cup champions expected more from themselves on the track, though.

Stewart acknowledged on the parade lap that he thought he could win the race and spent most of the day running in the top 10 – until being hit with a speeding penalty late in the race. He later called it a mistake.

Gordon, the only five-time winner of the Brickyard, came out of retirement to replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. for Hendrick Motorsports. Earnhardt is fighting concussion-like symptoms.

Gordon qualified 21st and wound up finishing 13th, in his first race since November, and acknowledged he “got his butt kicked” on the restarts.

Regardless, the estimated 50,000 fans at Indianapolis Motor Speedway mostly got what they came to see.

“They will be rooting for Stewart and I am sure rootin’ for Gordon,” 61-year-old Indianapolis resident Bob Joslin said before the race. “They are going to be the favorites.”

While it’s been billed as their final race, it’s not likely to be their last time at the track.

Gordon expects to lead the Sprint Cup cars down the front straightaway at least one more time after the injured forced him to decline driving the pace car this year. On Friday, Gordon promised Speedway President that he would serve as the pace-car driver at a future Brickyard.

And Stewart remains the co-owner of a Sprint Cup team that will likely return with his replacement next year.

But on Sunday, none of that mattered. Sharing a big moment with a friend, did.

“Thank you to Tony Stewart,” Gordon said. “It meant a lot to me, that he invited me to come take that last lap with him.”

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Jeff Gordon has reached the pinnacle of success at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with five Brickyard 400 wins. But this year’s race will post a unique challenge for the “rainbow warrior.” He has yet to get behind the wheel of a race car since last November, and the heat index is supposed to hit triple digits on race day.

“That’s the most important thing for me, is just making sure hydration wise that I can race in good shape,” Gordon said. “They’ve advanced a little bit since last year with how cooling is concerned. I actually have some air conditioning in the car I can use. Jimmie Johnson has offered me his cool vest, so they know that I’m old and not in the shape that I was.”

Talk about a whirlwind. When Rick Hendrick reached out to Jeff Gordon regarding filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr,, Gordon was with his wife on vacation in France. But the five-time Brickyard winner said he could not miss out on an opportunity to race again in Indy.

“Of any track that I can think of, heat or no heat, and come and do a good job for this team, it’s right here in Indianapolis,” Gordon said.

While Hendrick Motorsports has all of the confidence in the world in Gordon, drivers around NASCAR aren’t quite sold on another Jeff Gordon win at the Brickyard.

“He could surprise us all, he could win. But realistically I feel like top 10 for sure,” Kyle Busch said. “I feel like he could be pretty good enough to jump right in and be ready to finish top ten right away. I feel like top five is probably what’s expected maybe. But getting a win is high expectations.”

No matter the finish, one thing is for sure: Drivers and fans alike are happy to have Gordon back behind the wheel.

“All I can tell you is I’ve done everything I possibly can over the past three days to get ready for this race,” Gordon said.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Racing legend and Indiana native Jeff Gordon was honored Friday at the NASCAR Awards Banquet.

Gordon appeared stunned as he was introduced by Hollywood star Tom Cruise.

“When you are treated to excellence every day for 23 years, that doesn’t go away easily,” Cruise said.

Gordon took the stage and gave an emotional speech, recalling many of the memorable moments from his illustrious career.

Check out the video here:

Ahead of his final race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Jeff Gordon returned home to Pittsboro, Indiana on July 23, 2015 where the community said thank you to #24.

Click here to see pictures.

PITTSBORO, Ind. (WISH) – For all the talk about Pittsboro as the Hoosier hometown of Jeff Gordon, Lizton can claim a proud place in his development, too.

Gordon attended Tri-West High School in Lizton as a member of the Class of ’89.

In the days leading up to Gordon’s final Brickyard 400 appearance, 24-Hour News 8 visited with some of Gordon’s teachers.

Their names are Ron Ward, Walt Dininger, Steve Williams, Don Durrell, and Jim Coon – but they say even now Gordon never calls them that.

“You would see him at an event someplace, it would be, ‘Mr. Coon, Mr. Durrell, Mr. Williams,'” explained Coon. “He was very, very respectful.”

Durrell says Gordon was a great math student, earning A’s each year. But he also says Gordon never tried to grab a spot on the front row in class.

“And he always went right to the back, yes!”, says Durrell, pointing out the seat Gordon used to grab.

The men say the prize tale and treasure from that era is the story behind a framed sheet of paper with a series of numbers on the margins and an “A+” at the bottom.

“That’s his report card from Driver’s Ed,” says Dininger, with a chuckle.

Dininger says he taught driving for more than 30 years and gave Gordon the only perfect score in that entire time. He says the speedy youngster had no problem keeping it below 50 mph.

“Oh, yes!  He was the best,” Dininger says.

Williams, who never had Gordon in class, says they often talked racing in the hallways, and have caught up several times since then.  With a grin, Williams tells of a time early in Gordon’s NASCAR stardom when Gordon showed Williams around the team’s racing shop and eagerly offered goodies from sponsors.

“We talked a while and he said, You want some Pop Tarts?” Williams recalled, laughing deeply at the memory. “He had a whole skid full of Pop Tarts!”

Asked to sum up Jeff Gordon’s time at Tri-West, the men who steered him in school called him a solid student, a great sports fan, and a nice young man who, even at age 13, loved to talk racing with everyone.

For more stories and smiles, watch the video version of this story.

PITTSBORO, Ind. (WISH) – Pittsboro is ready for Jeff Gordon.

Thursday is Jeff Gordon Day in Pittsboro, as the town celebrates the last year of racing for their hometown hero. Gordon announced in January this would be his last year before retiring.

There will be a parade and related festivities much of the day Thursday.

Jeff Gordon Day kicks off Thursday morning with registration for a meet and greet with Gordon. 10 fans will be chosen from those who register. Fans can register at the Visit Hendricks County booth in Scamahorn Park from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Festivities begin around 10 a.m. in the park. The band Fonda will perform and there will be activities for kids, including bounce houses and a trampoline. Cars will be on display and there will be merchandise and food available for purchase.

The parade, which will feature Gordon, will go through main street and begins at noon. Around 12:45 p.m., Gordon will be on stage in Scamahorn Park for an awards ceremony.

Watch highlights of the parade on WISH-TV at noon and watch video of the parade live on starting at noon. Send your tweets and Facebook posts using #Thanks24 and we’ll use some on WISH-TV.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – NASCAR driver and Pittsboro-native Jeff Gordon is approaching his last Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis. To say he’s had a successful career would be an understatement.

Gordon got behind the wheel at the age of 5, racing at a small track in his original home town of Vallejo, California. He moved to Pittsboro, Indiana as a teenager so he would have more opportunities to race. The minimum age for driving sprint cars was 16.

It didn’t take long for Gordon to find success. By the time he was 18 years old, he won three short-track races and was awarded the USAC Midget Car Racing Rookie of the Year in 1989.

His career in NASCAR has been impressive. Gordon has racked up 92 career NASCAR cup victories and captured 80 career poles.

In Indianapolis, Gordon is one of only two five-time Brickyard 400 champions, winning in 1994, 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2014.

Gordon has also had success in Daytona, winning the Daytona 500 in 1997, 1999 and 2005.

Off the track, Gordon is philanthropic, regularly contributing to pediatric research. His foundation has raised $14 million for pediatric research since 1999. He’s also a big supporter of the Riley Children’s foundation, hosting an annual bowling tournament for them for the past 13 years.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – It’s a big weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as racing fans gear up for the Crown Royal Brickyard 400.

IMS President Doug Boles was on 24-Hour News 8 Tuesday afternoon to share some of the highlights, including Jeff Gordon Day.

The celebration of the racing legend will include a parade in Gordon’s hometown of Pittsboro on Thursday at noon. Live coverage of the event begins on Daybreak from 4-9 a.m. Thursday. We’ll have stories throughout the morning on WISH-TV and highlighting Gordon’s career and his accomplishments off the track. You can share your memories with us on Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtag #Thanks24.

Other events at the track include the Hauler Parade on Thursday, NASCAR practice on Friday, the Lilly Diabetes 250 and NASCAR qualifying on Saturday, and the Brickyard 400 Sunday.

For details on all those events click here. 

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon sent a special message to fans after Thursday’s Jeff Gordon Day and Parade in Pittsboro was cancelled.