Jeff Gordon may have retired from racing, but that doesn’t mean he’s done racing.
On Wednesday morning, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced Gordon would come out of retirement and officially replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race at the Brickyard.
Gordon, who turns 45 next month, was approached about possibly filling in by owner Rick Hendricks – who employed Gordon for almost a quarter of a century.
Earnhardt is out with a concussion and hasn’t been medically cleared to drive after reportedly complaining of nausea and balance issues.
After missing last weekend’s race at New Hampshire, Hendricks Motorsports said in a release that Earnhardt would be sidelined the following two races as well.
Gordon will also drive Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevrolet at Pocono on July 31.
"Jeff's a team player,” Hendrick said. “I know he'll be ready, and I know Dale has incredible trust in him. It's going to be an emotional weekend with Dale not being there and seeing Jeff back behind the wheel.”
Gordon’s final NASCAR race came at Homestead in November as he finished sixth in the Ford EcoBoost 400.
Gordon, who grew up not far from Indianapolis, not only won the inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1994 but also won the Indy NASCAR race four other times including in 2014.
Sunday’s race will be Gordon’s first Cup start in a car bearing a number other than his iconic No. 24.
Gordon, who joined the Fox Sports broadcast team this season, has started 797 Cup races with 93 victories and 325 top-five finishes.
Gordon is a four-time Cup series champion.
"We wish the circumstances were different,” Indianapolis speedway president J. Douglas Boles said in a release, “but we're thrilled anytime we see Jeff Gordon on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval and know our fans will love seeing him race again.”