Gordon: SHR reached out before Daytona 500
RELATED: Full schedule for Indianapolis " Gordon through the years SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Jeff Gordon 's "un-retirement" from competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series began in earnest Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The four-time Sprint Cup Series champion is filling in for Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Indianapolis and next weekend at Pocono Raceway while Earnhardt recovers from concussion-like symptoms. Almost as surprising as Gordon's return to the driver's seat -- he retired from full-time competition after the 2015 season -- was his disclosure that he had been approached about filling in for the injured Tony Stewart in this year's Daytona 500 . Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet and co-owner of the four-car organization, missed the first eight races after suffering a broken back in an off-road driving incident prior to the start of the 2016 season. Gordon's role as a FOX NASCAR analyst (the network provides coverage of the season's first 16 points races) prohibited him from returning to competition. "The crazy thing about all of this (is) I was asked to drive Tony Stewart 's car in Daytona to start the season," Gordon said Friday. "I wasn't able to do it because of my commitments to FOX. Now Rick (Hendrick, team owner) has some amazing ways to convince people into things that the average person might not be able to. I don't know, maybe he could have called Eric Shanks or something, but no, I don't think so." Shanks is President, COO and Executive Producer of FOX Sports. Stewart is competing in his final season as a driver. Sunday's Crown Royal Presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard will be his final appearance at the famed 2.5-mile track, where he has earned two of his 49 career victories. That Gordon was asked about filling in earlier this season was news to Stewart. "I wasn't (aware)," Stewart said, "but that would have been awesome. That probably would have been one of the coolest things to happen this season. If that happened, I would have been all for it. … "I wasn't aware of that, but that would have been a really cool deal for us." MORE: Dale Jr. out, Gordon in No. 88 at Indianapolis, Pocono
Sights and Sounds: 5-Hour Energy 500
Take a dramatic look back at the Jeff Gordon's victory along with the sights and sounds from Pocono.
Stats advance: Analyzing the 5-hour Energy 301
A statistical look ahead to the 19th race of the 2015 Sprint Cup season DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 13, 2015) – Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire going into the 5-hour ENERGY 301 on July 19 (1:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN). NEW HAMPSHIRE-SPECIFIC STATISTICS Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota) · Two wins, four top fives, seven top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 14. 500 , 10th-best · Average Running Position of 12.335, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 95.0, eighth-best · 245 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 124.934, seventh-fastest · 3760 Laps in the Top 15 (69.9), eighth-most · 498 Quality Passes, 10th-most Kyle Busch (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota) · One win, seven top fives, ten top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 14.050, ninth-best · Average Running Position of 13.375, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 94.7, ninth-best · 232 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 124.801, 11th-fastest · 3975 Laps in the Top 15 (66.5), 10th-most · 532 Quality Passes, eighth-most Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · Three wins, seven top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 17. 500 , 12th-best · Average Running Position of 14.294, 13th-best · Driver Rating of 88.1, 13th-best · 187 Fastest Laps Run, second-best · 3529 Laps in the Top 15 (59.0), 13th-most · 548 Quality Passes, sixth-most Dale Earnhardt Jr (No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet) · Seven top fives, 14 top 10s · Average finish of 13.350, seventh-best · Average Running Position of 11.743, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 97.1, sixth-best · 251 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 125.100, fifth-fastest · 4435 Laps in the Top 15 (74.2), fourth-most · 625 Quality Passes, third-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 AARP Member Advantages Chevrolet) · Three wins, 16 top fives, 22 top 10s; four poles · Average finish of 10.700, third-best · Average Running Position of 7.680, series-best · Driver Rating of 107.3, series-best · 457 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 125.292, series-fastest · 5266 Laps in the Top 15 (88.1), series-most · 676 Quality Passes, series-most Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota) · Two wins, seven top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 10. 500 , second-best · Average Running Position of 11.406, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 103.2, third-best · 320 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 125.064, sixth-fastest · 3936 Laps in the Top 15 (73.2), fifth-most · 570 Quality Passes, fourth-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John's/ Budweiser Chevrolet) · One win, six top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.750, eighth-best · Average Running Position of 12.288, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 93.1, 10th-best · 219 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 124.890, ninth-fastest · 4002 Laps in the Top 15 (66.9), ninth-most · 465 Quality Passes, 11th-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) · Three wins, ten top fives, 18 top 10s · Average finish of 10.950, fifth-best · Average Running Position of 11.144, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 102.1, fourth-best · 432 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 125.193, third-fastest · 4758 Laps in the Top 15 (79.6), second-most · 626 Quality Passes, second-most Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet) · One win, three top fives, eight top 10s · Average finish of 18.050, 13th-best · Average Running Position of 14.160, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 91.3, 12th-best · 340 Fastest Laps Run, series-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 124.891, eighth-fastest · 3781 Laps in the Top 15 (63.2), 12th-most · 534 Quality Passes, seventh-most Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford) · One win, four top fives, seven top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 11.000, sixth-best · Average Running Position of 12.985, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 95.6, seventh-best · 229 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 124.866, 10th-fastest · 2147 Laps in the Top 15 (65.3), 11th-most · 336 Quality Passes, 12th-most Kyle Larson (No. 42 Target Chevrolet) · Two top fives, two top 10s · Average finish of 2. 500 , series-best · Average Running Position of 10.730, third-best · Driver Rating of 99.1, fifth-best · 14 Fastest Laps Run, 13th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 125.217, second-fastest · 443 Laps in the Top 15 (72.9), sixth-most · 51 Quality Passes, 13th-most Ryan Newman (No. 31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet) · Three wins, seven top fives, 16 top 10s; seven poles · Average finish of 15.150, 11th-best · Average Running Position of 13.142, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 91.8, 11th-best · 169 Fastest Laps Run, third-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 124.770, 12th-fastest · 4342 Laps in the Top 15 (72.6), seventh-most · 504 Quality Passes, ninth-most Tony Stewart (No. 14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet) · Three wins, 14 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 10.947, fourth-best · Average Running Position of 10.290, second-best · Driver Rating of 106.9, second-best · 412 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 125.104, fourth-fastest · 4347 Laps in the Top 15 (76.6), third-most · 557 Quality Passes, fifth-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 16 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 28 1 1 6 14 0 13.9 93.1 2 Jimmie Johnson 26 0 3 10 18 1 10.3 102.1 3 Joey Logano 13 0 2 3 5 2 17.9 77.2 4 Dale Earnhardt Jr 31 0 0 7 14 4 15.3 97.1 5 Martin Truex Jr 18 0 0 3 6 1 14.4 86.3 6 Brad Keselowski 11 3 1 4 7 0 11 95.6 7 Jamie McMurray 24 0 0 4 6 3 20.5 70.4 8 Kurt Busch 28 0 3 7 11 1 16.1 88.1 9 Matt Kenseth 30 0 1 7 15 1 13.3 85.7 10 Jeff Gordon 40 4 3 16 22 2 11.4 107.3 11 Denny Hamlin 18 0 2 7 11 0 10.5 103.2 12 Kasey Kahne 22 0 1 3 8 3 17 91.3 13 Paul Menard 16 0 0 0 0 0 23.7 61.4 14 Ryan Newman 26 7 3 7 16 3 13.8 91.8 15 Clint Bowyer 18 1 2 4 7 1 14.5 95.0 16 Aric Almirola 9 0 0 1 2 0 19.6 64.8 New Hampshire Motor Speedway Data Season Race #: 19 of 36 (07-19-15) Track Size : 1.058-mile Banking/Turn 1 & 2 : 2 to 7 degrees Banking/Turn 3 & 4 : 2 to 7 degrees Banking/Frontstretch : 1 degree Banking/Backstretch : 1 degree Frontstretch Length : 1, 500 feet Backstretch Length : 1, 500 feet Race Length : 301 laps / 318.46 miles Top 10 Driver Rating at New Hampshire Jeff Gordon .............................. 107.3 Tony Stewart ............................. 106.9 Denny Hamlin ............................ 103.2 Jimmie Johnson ........................ 102.1 Kyle Larson . ............................... 99.1 Dale Earnhardt Jr . ....................... 97.1 Brad Keselowski ......................... 95.6 Clint Bowyer ............................... 95.0 Kyle Busch ................................. 94.7 Kevin Harvick .............................. 93.1 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (20 total) among active drivers at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Kyle Busch , Toyota 138.130 mph, 27.574 secs. 07-11-14 2014 race winner : Brad Keselowski , Ford 108.741 mph, (02:58:03), 07-13-14 Track qualifying record: Brad Keselowski , Ford 140.598 mph, 27.090 secs. 09-21-14 Track race record: Jeff Burton , Ford 117.134 mph, (02:42:35), 07-13-97 New Hampshire Motor Speedway: History · Groundbreaking for New Hampshire International Speedway, as New Hampshire Motor Speedway was originally named, was Aug. 13, 1989. · The 1.058-mile oval is located on approximately 1,200 acres; the multi-use complex is the largest sports facility in New England. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was on July 11, 1993 – won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace . · Speedway Motorsports, Inc. agreed to purchase New Hampshire International Speedway from Bob and Gary Bahre on January 11, 2008 and then renamed the track New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Starts · There have been 40 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway; one per year from 1993 through 1996 and two per year since. · 160 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire; 129 in more than one. · Jeff Gordon has competed in all 40 races at New Hampshire – the only driver to accomplish the feat. · Only one active championship contending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver has made their first career start at New Hampshire Motor Speedway: Joey Logano (9/14/08). · Three drivers will attempt to make their series debuts at New Hampshire this weekend: Trevor Bayne , Matt DiBenedetto and Brett Moffitt . · Ryan Newman leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at New Hampshire with an 8.692. Poles · Mark Martin won the inaugural Coors Light pole at New Hampshire in 1993 with a speed of 126.871 mph. · 18 drivers have Coors Light poles at New Hampshire, led by Ryan Newman with seven. · Four active drivers have multiple poles at New Hampshire: Ryan Newman (seven), Jeff Gordon (four), Brad Keselowski (three) and Kyle Busch (two). · Five drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at New Hampshire: Ken Schrader (1997 sweep); Jeff Gordon (1998-1999); Rusty Wallace (1999-2000); Ryan Newman (twice – 2003-2004 and 2011 sweep); Juan Pablo Montoya (2009-2010). · Youngest New Hampshire Coors Light pole winner: Brian Vickers (07/17/2005 – 21 years, 8 months, 23 days). · Oldest New Hampshire Coors Light pole winner: Bill Elliott (07/21/2002 – 46 years, 9 months, 13 days). · Brad Keselowski (9/19/10) is the only active driver to post his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Wins · 24 different drivers have won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, led by Jeff Burton with four. · Eight active drivers have multiple wins at NHMS: Kurt Busch , Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson , Ryan Newman , Tony Stewart (each have three); Clint Bowyer , Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano (each have two) · Two drivers have posted consecutive wins at New Hampshire Motor Speedway: Jimmie Johnson (2003 sweep) and Kurt Busch (2004 sweep). · Youngest New Hampshire winner: Joey Logano (06/28/2009 – 19 years, 1 month, 4 days). · Oldest New Hampshire winner: Mark Martin (09/20/2009 – 50 years, 8 months, 11 days). · Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at New Hampshire in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with nine; followed by Roush Fenway Racing (seven), Team Penske (six), Joe Gibbs Racing (six) and Richard Childress Racing (four). · Five different manufacturers have won at New Hampshire; led by Chevrolet with 18 victories; followed by Ford (13), Toyota (four), Dodge (three) and Pontiac (two). · Jeff Burton is the only driver to win the July race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway three consecutive years in a row (1997, ’98 and ’99) · Five of the 40 (12.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at New Hampshire have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Ryan Newman in 2011. · The Coors Light pole is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (five) than any other starting position at New Hampshire. · Eight of the 40 (20%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at New Hampshire have been won from the front row: five from the pole and three from second-place. · 22 of the 40 (55%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at New Hampshire have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Nine of the 40 (22.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at New Hampshire have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at New Hampshire is 38th, by Jeff Burton in 1999. · The deepest in the field that an active race winner has started at New Hampshire is 32nd, by Kurt Busch in the summer of 2003. · Dale Earnhardt Jr . leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at New Hampshire without visiting Victory Lane at 31; followed by Jamie McMurray and Casey Mears (24 starts each). · Three active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted their first career win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway: Ryan Newman (9/15/02), Clint Bowyer (9/16/07) and Joey Logano (6/28/09). Additional Finishing Position Stats · Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart are tied for the series lead in runner-up finishes at New Hampshire with five each. · Jeff Gordon leads the series in top-five finishes at New Hampshire with 16; followed by Tony Stewart with 14 and Jimmie Johnson with 10. · Jeff Gordon leads the series in top-10 finishes at New Hampshire with 22; followed by Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson with 18 each. · Jimmie Johnson leads NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at New Hampshire with an 10.269. · All 14 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winners at New Hampshire Motor Speedway participated in at least one or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Ryan Newman and Joey Logano won at New Hampshire in their second appearance. Track Specific Stats · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was the July 1, 2007 race won by Denny Hamlin over Jeff Gordon with a MOV of 0.068 second. · 17 of the 33 (51.5%) NSCS races scored by el
Larson: 'I would love to run the Indy 500'
Kyle Larson talks about the potential of running the Indianapolis 500 in the future.
Sprint Cup qualifying order for Daytona 500
RELATED: Sprint Unlimited results # Car Driver Team 1 30 * Josh Wise Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet 2 40 * Reed Sorenson CRC Brakleen Chevrolet 3 26 * Robert Richardson Jr. Stalk It Toyota 4 35 * David Gilliland Ford 5 23 David Ragan Dr Pepper Toyota 6 98 * Cole Whitt Toyota 7 32 Bobby Labonte C&J Energy Services Ford 8 38 Landon Cassill Florida Lottery Ford 9 15 Clint Bowyer 5-hour Energy Chevrolet 10 34 Chris Buescher Love's Travel Stops Ford 11 47 AJ Allmendinger Kroger/Scott Products Chevrolet 12 59 * Michael McDowell Thrivent Financial Chevrolet 13 46 Michael Annett Pilot/Flying J Chevrolet 14 83 Michael Waltrip Maxwell House Toyota 15 93 * Matt DiBenedetto Dustless Blasting Toyota 16 7 Regan Smith Nikko RC/Golden Corral Chevrolet 17 43 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 18 42 Kyle Larson Target Chevrolet 19 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's/Cessna Chevrolet 20 10 Danica Patrick Nature's Bakery Chevrolet 21 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota 22 27 Paul Menard Peak Antifreeze/Menards Chevrolet 23 14 Brian Vickers Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet 24 95 Ty Dillon (i) Cheerios Chevrolet 25 6 Trevor Bayne AdvoCare Ford 26 44 Brian Scott # Albertsons Co./Shore Lodge Ford 27 31 Ryan Newman CAT Chevrolet 28 78 Martin Truex Jr . Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Toyota 29 3 Austin Dillon DOW Chevrolet 30 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr . Fastenal Ford 31 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet 32 5 Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance Chevrolet 33 13 Casey Mears GEICO Chevrolet 34 16 Greg Biffle KFC Nashville Hot Ford 35 19 Carl Edwards ARRIS Toyota 36 24 Chase Elliott NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet 37 4 Kevin Harvick Jimmy John's Chevrolet 38 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr . Nationwide Chevrolet 39 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General Toyota 40 18 Kyle Busch M&M's 75 Toyota 41 41 Kurt Busch Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet 42 21 * Ryan Blaney # Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford 43 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford 44 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford * Required to qualify on time, (i) Ineligible for driver points in this series
Gordon talks return, Dale Jr. at Indianapolis
SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Fans lined up two- and three-deep outside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway media center hoping for autographs from four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon , who is returning to NASCAR competition this weekend. The five-time Indy winner will drive for the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr. for two races -- at Indy and next week at Pocono -- while Earnhardt recovers from concussion-like symptoms. Gordon, 45, was all smiles and admittedly still a little overwhelmed with the new part-time job as he addressed the media for the first time Friday morning. He was primarily concerned with his former Hendrick Motorsports teammate Earnhardt's recovery. "Most of all, I'm proud to be here and help this team out," Gordon said. "This is his team and what we want the most is to have him healthy and strong for the long term. My goal is to come here and give this team the best effort I can." Gordon said the whole opportunity to fill in for Earnhardt began with a simple cell phone text he received while vacationing with his wife in France. "Call me," read the text from team owner Rick Hendrick. "I can tell you, you sit down when you call," Gordon said smiling. "It hasn't happened a lot, but when it does, it's usually something big. "I was in the South of France at that time, second day of our vacation. I got that text and looked at my wife and said, 'Oh, boy, here we go.' "Rick said to me, 'Are you coming to Indianapolis?' And I told him I was coming on Saturday. He said, 'You better bring your uniform.' Then he started telling me what was happening, and I told him, 'You're messing with me. I know you're messing with me.' "I knew right away the seriousness, that he wasn't joking. That this was serious. I honestly didn't have to think twice." So Gordon flew back from Paris to New York on Tuesday, a day earlier than expected and Hendrick had a plane waiting on its "new" driver to transport him to the team's headquarters in North Carolina. Once in Charlotte, Gordon had to get a NASCAR driver's license -- he currently held one as a team owner -- and get the required physical tests to certify he was ready for competition. The team still had Gordon's seat and steering wheel from last season's Cup finale at Homestead. Gordon said he spent time studying data and GoPro video from inside the cars of Hendrick drivers Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott when they tested last week at Indy. Gordon said he also spent time speaking with crew chief Greg Ives. "The cool thing about Greg Ives is he reminded me that he worked for Robbie Loomis when Robbie was my crew chief and he was telling some great stories about working with Robbie," Gordon said. "I've known Greg for a long time and always been impressed with him. But, I have never had the opportunity to work with him. I'm looking forward to working with him. I think he's a great crew chief and they have a great race team." An hour before Gordon and Hendrick spoke to the media in Indianapolis, Earnhardt sent a message to his fans on social media. "Today is the 1st day in many that I sensed improvement. Seen small gains during my physical therapy as well. Light at the end of the tunnel," Earnhardt wrote on Twitter. RELATED: Earnhardt gives update on his health "I certainly woke up feeling good when I saw Dale Jr.'s tweet, that he's seen progress," Gordon said. "I texted him right away as soon as I saw that. So, that is great news. Great way to start the day." Hendrick also reiterated how proud of Earnhardt he was for recognizing a problem and taking correct and cautious measures in terms of racing. And, he noted, Earnhardt was in the race shop Wednesday spending time with his team. "He looks good and he's in great spirits," Hendrick said. "He's encouraged and following the doctors' orders and we're really excited. He wants to get back in the car. "He wants to race, but he also knows that the regimen they have him on will get him right for a long time. So he's following doctors' orders, but I can tell he's getting a little antsy. But he's going to do well." Gordon conceded that in addition to getting used to the 2016 Cup cars -- and the digital dash, which he has never used -- was the simple and obvious thing of remembering he's driving the No. 88 Chevrolet. For 24 seasons, Gordon drove the No. 24 Chevrolet for Hendrick, earning four series titles and a record five Brickyard 400 trophies. Now, rookie Chase Elliott drives that car. "I'm going to be racing against the No. 24 car out there," Gordon said, allowing a slight smile. "It's a race car and I'm going to be focused on driving, not focused on anything else. "To me, once I get behind the wheel and I'm inside the car I don't know what is on the outside of that car." RELATED: Other times legendary athletes wore different numbers In addition to this role driving for Earnhardt, Gordon revealed he was asked in February to fill in for then-injured Tony Stewart in the season-opening Daytona 500 . He couldn't because of contract obligations with his new on-air role with FOX Sports. Certainly, few of Gordon's competitors Sunday have any doubt whatsoever that he will be competitive here. "He has the best stats of anybody or as good of stats as anybody here at this race track as far as top fives and top 10s," Richard Childress Racing driver Ryan Newman said. "I think that he is driving the same equipment, it's not like he's in somebody else's race car. He knows what he's driving, he knows the people he is driving for, so I don't see any reason why he is not one of the guys to beat." Teammate Jimmie Johnson echoed the prevailing sentiment in the garage. With both Stewart and Gordon in their final Brickyard, there will be plenty to watch. "It is big, the way it worked out obviously, but to have Tony Stewart in his final race, Jeff Gordon in his final race -- Part Two, it is a big time," Johnson said. "Jeff has always been so well supported by the fans at this race track. I can only imagine how loud they are going to be at driver intros -- and how bonkers this place would go if he is able to win." RELATED: Stewart would consider substitute role in '17 In another nod to the team's regular driver, track crews took down a sign the Speedway had placed above the No. 88 team's garage that identified Jeff Gordon as the driver of the car instead of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Gordon insisted that it was Earnhardt's car regardless of who was driving it this weekend. Gordon looked good in opening practice for Sunday's Brickyard 400 with the ninth-fastest speed, and no one has proven himself better here. "I'm certainly a little overwhelmed over everything that has happened over the last week," Gordon said. "But, most of all, I'm proud to be here and help his team out. This is his team. What we want most is to have (Earnhardt) healthy and strong for the long-term. Today is a great sign of things to come for him. "For me, my goal is to come here and give this team the best effort that I can, and give them the best result ... hopefully a good one. So really, this is just me helping out the organization. We will see what happens on Sunday. If we are out there having fun, and put a good result together, I can tell you what is in it for me is to make that team proud, and not let them down." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Johnson looks to cure cold spell at the Brickyard
RELATED: Johnson through the years " See all the winners at the Brickyard SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Jimmie Johnson looked comfortable and calm taking questions from the media Friday morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The six-time Sprint Cup Series champion's No. 48 Lowe’s Red Vest Chevrolet was fastest in the day's opening practice here and seventh quickest in final practice. The historically tough 2.5-mile track has been a positive outlet for Johnson. His success at Indianapolis – four wins – is undeniable, but it is also sporadic. And overdue. Johnson won three times at Indy in four years between 2006-2009 – a mark both unmatched and highly impressive. He added a fourth victory in 2012 and then nearly a fifth in 2013 when he finished runner-up. Only Jeff Gordon (five wins) has won more here. The flip side of the success is that three times Johnson has finished 36th or worse. He was 14th and 15th in his last two races at Indy. And his need to add another win here in Sunday's Crown Royal presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard (NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) is as much about turning his season around in pursuit of a record-tying seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title as it is attaining Indianapolis-specific glory. "We love big events, that's one thing about Hendrick Motorsports,’" Johnson allowed, smiling. "We look at the 500 and the 400 and all big races as an opportunity; and are excited for it." Johnson was the first driver in 2016 to collect multiple trophies winning the second week of the season at Atlanta and then again three weeks later at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. But in the last 10 races, he's crashed out three times and had only a single top-10 finish – a third-place finish at Charlotte in the Coca-Cola 600 . In fact, four of his finishes in this stretch have been 25th or worse. Before a 12th- place finish from the pole position at New Hampshire last week, Johnson uncharacteristically crashed out in back-to-back races with a 35th- place showing at Daytona and 32nd at Kentucky. He's currently eighth in the points standings, however, he is fourth on the Chase Grid because of his multiple wins. "I guess last week is kind of a good example of some of the difficulties we've had," Johnson said of New Hampshire. "We had competitive cars all running in the top 11 and in one corner we lose two of them. "It's been tough, but I think we have a good foundation to build from. We have respectable finishes in our cars, but nobody wants to be a decent finisher or a respectable finisher. We all want to dominate. And, we're working real hard on all fronts; from our engine shop, chassis shop, aero, teams, pit stops, and all of it." Contrary to what other teams may be experiencing, Johnson said it's not that his team isn't trying hard enough to return to form. It may be they are trying too hard. "And that's the problem," Johnson said. "I've been at 110 percent and you make too many mistakes there. And I think our team has, too. So, that's one thing we have recognized and we're going to really try to dial back and make sure that we run where we should. "If we have a fifth place car that week, let's be sure that we at least finish fifth. Maybe there's some opportunities to give us a chance to win, but stop making mistakes. And, I've got to do that, first and foremost." Johnson said he was even open to having the team’s "new driver" Jeff Gordon give feedback on the cars since Gordon – who retired last year – is filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. this week at Indianapolis and next week at Pocono while Earnhardt continues to recover from concussion-like symptoms. "We're months in, and I feel like all the drivers have expressed where we could be stronger and what we might need, but a fresh set of eyes and I guess it is kind of biased, but versus the four drivers in unbiased evaluation of the car and where we stack-up and how the engine feels compared to others," Johnson said of possibly getting Gordon's opinion. "And Jeff has had a unique opportunity to see the sport from a totally different angle; and certainly watching cars and I know he's formed some opinions watching other race cars and where the Toyotas might beat us. So, to be able to sit in the car and look for those opportunities and moments, I think will be helpful for us, for sure." The recent struggles are certainly an unfamiliar position for team owner Rick Hendrick, who was just selected for the 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame class. He's grown much more accustomed to winning championships or at the very least challenging for titles. Recently his team has been challenging simply to finish a race. But righting the course is something everyone expects. And the trick is doing it sooner than later. "It seems like when it rains, it pours," Hendrick said. "I think at Daytona we wrecked three or four cars. And then we went to Kentucky and wrecked again. We were in good shape in New Hampshire, but wrecked again. I've been doing this long enough that you can't stay on top forever. You have to work hard to get back. And I think we've made a lot of improvements. "I think we'll see some, hopefully, this weekend. But, you never like having a curveball. This is kind of one of the toughest things you have to go through as one of your star drivers can't drive. And so, the encouraging news is that everybody just stepped up and is working harder. "We're determined to work in every area from the engine to the chassis and aero and everything. And the teams are excited. It's kind of our 'refuse to lose' belief. But we didn't need this, for sure. We didn't need the wrecks we've gone through. Our place looks like a salvage yard where all of the cars have been tore up. But that just makes us dig harder." And Johnson appears ready to lead the charge. "We're all highly inspired to get back on top of the mountain, that is where we feel we should be at Hendrick Motorsports," Johnson said. "We've just got to clean it up on all fronts. Hopefully we have it all together here and can win."
NASCAR, Chevrolet launch diversity scholarship contest
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 23, 2016) — NASCAR and Chevrolet today announced the launch of the second annual NASCAR Chevrolet Diversity Scholarship Contest during a press conference at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Through this initiative, NASCAR and Chevrolet continue their longstanding commitment to Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) education and promoting opportunities for college students pursuing technology related careers. The contest challenges students to identify a technology or innovation within NASCAR and explain how STEM professionals came to its design in 90-second videos submitted on www.chevy.nascardiversity.com . Four winners will receive a total of $20,000 in scholarships and a VIP experience at Texas Motor Speedway during the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race on November 6, 2016. In what has quickly become an important component of NASCAR's diversity and inclusion platform, the scholarship program helps both organizations attract young, diverse talent to the world of motorsports. "STEM professionals are invaluable to our sport," said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. "We're proud to partner again with Chevrolet in supporting talented students who we hope one day will play an important role in our industry." Video submissions will be judged on technical accuracy, creativity and production quality. Examples of science and technology in NASCAR include, but are not limited to: track banking and construction, race car design, SAFER barrier walls, drafting, gas mileage, tire wear, ethanol fuel, pit road officiating and solar energy . Ken Barrett, chief diversity officer for General Motors, announced the scholarship contest today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "At General Motors, diversity is our strength and we seek unique perspectives to infuse new ideas into all we do - keeping us on the cutting edge of technological innovation," said Barrett. "Attracting and employing the best and brightest STEM talent from around the world places GM and Chevy in the position to win in the marketplace and the race track." Winners will be awarded a scholarship and an exclusive, behind-the-scenes race experience in Texas, including a tour of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage, pace car rides and meet-and-greets with Team Chevy drivers and Chevrolet NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Program Manager, Alba Colon. "We're thrilled to once again offer this scholarship opportunity for talented students," said Colon. "NASCAR is such an innovative sport and this is a great way to get students excited about science and technology." To be eligible for the contest, students must be currently enrolled, at least part-time, in an accredited college or university within the United States, be between the ages of 18 and 25 at the time of entry and submit a YouTube link through the scholarship website. The deadline to enter is October 15, 2016. For more information on the NASCAR Chevrolet Diversity Scholarship Contest, please visit www.chevy.nascardiversity.com .
Gordon: 'I was asked to drive Tony Stewart's car in Daytona'
Jeff Gordon talks to the media at Indianapolis Motor Speedway about being asked to fill-in for an injured Tony Stewart for the DAYTONA 500 .
Results from Indianapolis heat races
Heat 1 Finish Car Driver Team 1 18 Kyle Busch (i) NOS Energy Drink Toyota 2 42 Kyle Larson (i) ParkerStore Chevrolet 3 22 Joey Logano (i) Discount Tire Ford 4 19 Daniel Suarez Juniper Networks Toyota 5 1 Elliott Sadler OneMain Chevrolet 6 98 Jeb Burton Estes Ford 7 33 Brandon Jones # Jeld-Wen/Menards Chevrolet 8 16 Ryan Reed Lilly Diabetes/American Diabetes Association Ford 9 11 Blake Koch LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet 10 51 Jeremy Clements RepairableVehicles.com/SDD Chevrolet 11 44 J.J. Yeley Zachry Toyota 12 14 Jeff Green Toyota 13 0 Garrett Smithley # teamjdmotorsports.com Chevrolet 14 01 Ryan Preece # teamjdmotorsports.com Chevrolet 15 13 Harrison Rhodes TredWear.com/Masters Properties Toyota 16 25 Stanton Barrett KeensBuildings.com Chevrolet 17 74 Mike Harmon truckersfinalmile.org Dodge 18 89 Morgan Shepherd Chevrolet 19 40 Timmy Hill (i) CrashClaimsR.Us/Icard Merrill Dodge 20 10 Matt DiBenedetto (i) Toyota * -- Daniel Suarez and Elliott Sadler are eligible to run for the Dash 4 Cash in the main race. Heat 2 Finish Car Driver Team 1 20 Erik Jones # Hisense USA Toyota 2 88 Kevin Harvick (i) Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet 3 7 Justin Allgaier BRANDT Chevrolet 4 2 Paul Menard (i) Richmond/Menards Chevrolet 5 48 Brennan Poole # DC Solar Chevrolet 6 3 Ty Dillon Rheem/Nidec/US Motors Chevrolet 7 6 Darrell Wallace Jr. Ford EcoBoost Ford 8 62 Brendan Gaughan South Point Chevrolet 9 39 Ryan Sieg NiceTargets Chevrolet 10 28 Dakoda Armstrong WinField Toyota 11 4 Ross Chastain Dream Water Chevrolet 12 07 Ray Black Jr. # Scuba Life Chevrolet 13 46 Brandon Gdovic TCC Culture of Good Chevrolet 14 78 BJ McLeod # Safecraft Safety Equipment Ford 15 93 David Starr Massimo Motors Chevrolet 16 90 Mario Gosselin BuckedUp Apparel Chevrolet 17 97 Ryan Ellis VroomBrands Chevrolet 18 70 Derrike Cope E-hydrate/Circle Track Warehouse Chevrolet 19 52 Joey Gase Donate Life Chevrolet 20 15 Todd Peck Carport Empire/Lilly Trucking Ford * -- Erik Jones and Justin Allgaier are eligible to run for the Dash 4 Cash in the main race.