Sunday's race will mark the fifth for Jeff Gordon in place of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is out for the rest of the season while recovering from a concussion. Hendrick Motorsports announced Friday the #88 Chevrolet will be split for the final 12 races between Alex Bowman and Gordon. The four-time series champion will race Earnhardt's car in the next two races at Darlington and Richmond before turning the car over to Bowman for 10 of the last 12 races. Gordon will race again at Dover and Martinsville – tracks where he has combined for 14 victories.
Though the schedule lines up well with his strengths, Gordon said it wasn't solely set by his preference. Bowman will race New Hampshire Motor Speedway because he already filled in for Earnhardt there in July. Because of schedule conflicts, Gordon can't race at some 1.5-mile tracks, so it made more sense to keep Bowman at all of them.
"It'd be best for the team for him to be in all of those," Gordon said. "We know he's a talented driver, too, and want to see what he's capable of doing. He does a lot of work in the simulator for us. Matching up actual race data and conditions to the simulator helps us develop the simulator, too."
Making the schedule was a collaborative effort involving The input from multiple sources. "It's a combination of what's best for the team, what's best for the sponsors and sort of Junior's wishes as well," Gordon said. "He's big on Alex Bowman, and the team has really enjoyed having him in the car. We want to make sure our sponsors are getting everything out of it as well. They do a lot for us. NBC Sports