Alex Bowman to sub for Earnhardt at Michigan if needed

Alex Bowman raced the No. 88 at New Hampshire. (Getty Images)
Alex Bowman raced the No. 88 at New Hampshire. (Getty Images)
Alex Bowman raced the No. 88 at New Hampshire. (Getty Images)

Hendrick Motorsports confirmed Friday night that Alex Bowman will substitute for Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Michigan International Speedway if needed.

Earnhardt has missed five races as he recovers from concussion like symptoms. Bowman drove for the No. 88 team July 17 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Retired Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon took over for Earnhardt at Indianapolis and raced the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy last Monday at Pocono Raceway. Gordon raced the car at Watkins Glen and will do so again this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.  After qualifying 11th Friday night, Gordon revealed that he has another commitment next weekend. Hendrick Motorsports confirmed shortly after that Bowman will be the substitute at Michigan.

NASCAR’s most popular driver was in an accident at Michigan at June, and another at Daytona in July.  It was that first accident that Earnhardt later said doctors felt cause his most recent symptoms. He has been diagnosed with at least three concussions during his racing career. He suffered a concussion at the Fontana race in April of 2002. He continued to race and didn’t reveal the injury until September.  He suffered two more concussions  in 2012 in a period of six-weeks: a hard crash during a tire test at Kansas Speedway, another big crash at Talladega Superspeedway. After the Talladega crash, Earnhardt went to a doctor for an evaluation. The doctor forced him to miss two races in October that year because of the injury.

Earnhardt met with the media prior to Watkins Glen on August 5, and said that his doctors had not given him a timetable to return because those doctors could not tell him how long his symptoms will last.

“You just don’t know when the symptoms will stop,” Earnhardt said.  “Every day I am doing these exercises to sort of retrain the brain to fix the issues that I have with the balance and to gain stability.  It will fix itself when it decides to.”

This past week however, Earnhardt posted a video on social media of him playing basketball.  He is scheduled to meet with doctors early next week.  Gordon has finished 13,27 and 14th in his three starts in the No. 88. Bowman finished 26th at New Hampshire in the No. 88.