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Jeff Gordon gives Dale Earnhardt Jr. something to smile about at Dover: No. 88 is fastest

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Citizen Solider 400 - Practice

DOVER, DE - OCTOBER 01: Jeff Gordon (L), driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, talks with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Citizen Solider 400 at Dover International Speedway on October 1, 2016 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

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DOVER, Del. -- With the No. 88 Chevrolet’s regular driver back in the garage, Jeff Gordon topped the practice chart Saturday morning with a 160.514-mph lap at Dover International Speedway.

Gordon was driving in place of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is sidelined the remainder of the season while recovering from a concussion. Earnhardt was in the Dover garage Saturday morning after announced earlier this week that he would be at the 1-mile oval Saturday and Sunday, planning to watch the Xfinity and Sprint Cup races.

Gordon, who was Earnhardt’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate for eight seasons before retiring in 2015, also will drive the No. 88 at Martinsville Speedway. Alex Bowman will drive the car in the remaining six races this season.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (159.610) was second fastest in Saturday’s first practice for the Citizen Solider 400, followed by Ryan Newman (159.419), Kasey Kahne (159.405) and Paul Menard (159.011).

The 55-minute practice was shortened by 15 minutes because of rain.

Click here for 1-lap and 10-lap results from practice