RELATED: Latest updates, timeline on Dale Jr.
LOUDON, N.H. -- Hendrick Motorsports sent the stock car racing world into a frenzy on Friday morning at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, announcing that recently retired, four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon would make a start at his beloved Indianapolis Motor Speedway this Sunday in the No. 88 Chevrolet, should driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. need more time to recover from his concussion-related symptoms.
Nothing is official yet, but a tentative plan is in place for Gordon to return from a vacation in France in time to get to the track and get plenty of practice in to shake off any rust acquired since hanging up the fire suit in November.
The team is expecting to get a medical update on Earnhardt early this week, with a decision to be reached shortly thereafter.
That doesn't mean the No. 88 crew isn't already preparing for having a legend behind the wheel.
"I think a lot of us on the team have worked for Jeff throughout his illustrious career at Hendrick Motorsports. To be able to be part of that one more time would be pretty cool for those who have worked with him in the past, but also for those who've never worked with him," crew chief Greg Ives told NASCAR.com after Sunday's New Hampshire 301.
"He's such an iconic member of the NASCAR world, fan base and people in the sport working around it for so long that I guess you look at it as a cool opportunity, but I'm not looking at that opportunity as something that I would want anything different than with Dale. I want him to be back in the car, but I don't want him to rush things."
While it's neat to think about Gordon back behind the wheel -- at arguably his best track, no less -- Ives and Co. are maintaining perspective and hope for a speedy-yet-full recovery for their full-time driver.
"The main, important thing is for (Dale's) health and also for the health of the race team to come back when he's ready.
"I think if we do that, we're going to have better performance overall rather than maybe coming back a little too soon."