Earnhardt returns to Dover to support Hendrick teammates

DOVER, Del. (AP) Dale Earnhardt Jr. might take a turn as NASCAR's most popular crew member.

Earnhardt was in a hoodie and a hat instead of a fire suit as he made one of his few public appearances at a track since his season ended in July because of a concussion. Earnhardt posed for selfies with fans and seemed in good spirits watching practice from the pit box on Saturday at Dover International Speedway.

Earnhardt assisted with his No. 88 team and took an interest in helping crew chief Greg Ives during Jeff Gordon's practice run on a session interrupted by rain. Earnhardt won't race again and Gordon will substitute for him in one more race in the 88. Alex Bowman will drive in the other races left this season.

Earnhardt, long NASCAR's most popular driver, has said he hoped to be cleared for the 2017 Daytona 500.