Jeff Gordon readies for the Brickyard in surprising return

Stewart actually will get an unexpected distraction at Indianapolis: Jeff Gordon driving the No. 88 vehicle for an ailing Dale Earnhardt Jr.

In terms of Earnhardt's health, reports have indicated that he has been battling balance problems and nausea - possibly from a pair of back-to-back crashes in MI and Daytona. The health and safety of Earnhardt Jr. was mentioned numerous times during the press conference while both Gordon and Hendrick continued to emphasis their desire to see Jr. healthy and back in the No. 88 machine as soon as possible. Gordon had not spoken publicly since Hendrick made the announcement Wednesday that Earnhardt needed more time to recover. Dale has a great team. Because if he's not medically cleared to race, then it makes no difference what the 41-year-old wants. "Mostly I'm just thinking about Dale Jr and the impact on his team". Our Furniture Row Racing crew is looking forward to the return visit.

Will this stand as Gordon's last victory after these two races? The latest symptoms surfaced after a mid-June crash at Michigan International Speedway and the wreck at Daytona.

Gordon recorded the ninth fastest time at 179.376 miles per hour as he dealt with an overall tight race vehicle throughout the session. But he's comfortable with the team around him as well as racing at a track where he's enjoyed tremendous success over the years that confidence remains as high as the temperatures are expected to be this weekend in Indy.

The move comes at a time that Hendrick's powerhouse team has been out of sync. Logano rides a string of three straight top-10 efforts into Sunday's race. This will be his last race there; he announced last fall that 2016 would be his final Sprint Cup season. "We don't just decide to make an example out of somebody on a given lap at a given race". He also counts a record six wins at Pocono among his 93 career Cup victories, all with Hendrick's team.

"I literally went from the doctor's office to my race seat and practice, my first time ever in a NASCAR".

"That will be a really weird feeling because the only auto he ever drove was the 24", Fox Sports commentator and three-time Cup champ Darrell Waltrip said Wednesday. "For me, it's kind of a cool place to go to as I grew up always wanting to race Indy cars".

Not having Earnhardt in Sunday's starting lineup also will be odd.

The Brickyard week actually starts early as far as being special for Stewart.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to the famous track of Indianapolis Speedway this week for the Combat Wounded Coalition 400. He will be joining fellow Hoosier Tony Stewart, who is retiring after this season. The radio broadcast of the race can be heard in Indianapolis on 93.5 and 1070 The Fan, as well as 107.5 ESPN.

Sports' Jeff Gluck looks ahead to the Brickyard 400 and the story lines that fans should keep an eye on leading up to this weekend's race.

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