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Jeff Gordon unavailable to drive for Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Michigan

If Dale Earnhardt Jr. is not cleared to race at Michigan, Alex Bowman will drive the No. 88 car.

Sean Gardner/Getty Images

If Dale Earnhardt Jr. remains sidelined recovering from a concussion, Jeff Gordon is not available to fill in next at Michigan International Speedway, the four-time NASCAR champion told reporters Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Gordon said a previous commitment will prevent him from being at Michigan next Friday and Saturday. He doesn't feel it's fair to Earnhardt's No. 88 team to show up on just Sunday and race, as he's not driven the low downforce aerodynamic package.

"I didn't know I was going to be doing all of this," Gordon said via NBC Sports. "...I can't be there all weekend."

Alex Bowman, who drove Earnhardt's No. 88 car last month at New Hampshire Motor Speedway before Gordon took over the following week, will again substitute if Earnhardt is not medically cleared to compete at Michigan. There is no timetable on when Earnhardt may return.

Gordon retired at the end of 2015 but returned when Hendrick Motorsports needed a substitute for Earnhardt, who doctors believe sustained a concussion during the June 12 race at Michigan, though the symptoms didn't appear until weeks later.

Gordon has since made three starts in Earnhardt's absence, recording finishes of 13th (Indianapolis), 27th (Pocono) and 14th (Watkins Glen). He's qualified 11th for Saturday night's Bristol race.

"I was enjoying my summer a lot," Gordon said, via "To go from my experience [vacationing] in France and how relaxing that was to the intensity level at Indy, it was a big wake-up call for me.

"Every week that I'm in the car, I get more comfortable and I get in a place where I feel I can contribute more and ramp my intensity level up along with the competition. You can't just be out of it for six months and jump in and expect that to come naturally -- not for me anyway."

If needed, Gordon said he is available to return for the Labor Day weekend race Sept. 4 at Darlington Raceway.