Jeff Gordon was officially named as the replacement driver in the No. 88 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway next week, should Dale Earnhardt Jr. not be cleared to race. Hendrick Motorsports general manager Doug Duchardt revealed the news during a Friday morning press conference at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

It was a surprising revelation with the NASCAR legend retiring at the conclusion of the 2015 season. This week, he is in France with family and Alex Bowman has been selected to pilot the car.

The team originally believed they would only need the 22-year-old as a backup driver with Jr. starting the race, which changed less than 24 hours ago.

Bowman is currently running a partial schedule for JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

Gordon, who will turn 44 next month, has a series-leading five victories in the Brickyard 400. A timetable has not yet been set for Earnhardt's return.

This story by Nick DeGroot was originally published on

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