Alan Cavanna talks about Jeff Gordon's high praise for Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Kyle Larson at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Jeff Gordon cuts a right-front tire late in the race, sending the No. 24 into the wall.
Four-time series champion has his eyes on NASCAR's most coveted prize RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota The question, broached before the season even began, hasn't gone away and maybe that’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, if folks want to talk about winning the championship and potential retirement in the same breath, well, that's not all bad. Not when you're Jeff Gordon and you haven't really been in the title picture in more than a decade. There are far worse questions out there. What's wrong with your team? Why didn't you make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup? Will you be back with the team next year? Fortunately for the 43-year-old, such questions have rarely, if ever, been asked. But retirement? Yeah, it comes up from time to time. And with the Hendrick Motorsports driver back in the title picture, it makes for good copy. One of the sport's greatest drivers has chance to win title, and sail off into the sunset hoisting a fifth championship trophy. There's only one problem. Gordon isn't buying the retirement part. Or selling it, for that matter. "The majority of my focus is on winning the championship," Gordon said last week in Chicago, before this year's 10-race Chase got under way. Easing off the throttle? Not now. Not as long as his back holds out, his team continues to perform at its current level and Gordon keeps finding a way to get back to Victory Lane. "I was asked 'would you consider it?' and I said I would because I think it’'an exciting way to end a career – to go out on top," Gordon said. "But at the same time, I'm having too much fun. I'm enjoying myself too much. My back is doing well and I don't see any reason to quit anytime soon." One of the favorites in this year's championship run, Gordon admits it’s been "a long time, too long" since he won his fourth, and to date, last title. That was in 2001, 13 years ago. He turned 30 earlier that summer. No one expected the domination, which included 58 wins at that point, to slow anytime soon. But it did. That he's back in the title picture, and a legitimate contender, he said, has as much to do with those around him as the driver himself. "We haven't had a team like this since 2001," Gordon said. "In '07 we were close; '04 we were close but I don't think we ever really had this type of momentum, this kind of chemistry since we won our last championship. "And you know … that's what it takes to win the championship. Who we've been up against, they've had that. We've got that back this year and that's why I'm really excited about our chances." He's seen others go through similar circumstances. Former teammate Terry Labonte went 12 years in between winning championships in 1984 and 1996. In fact, Labonte's chief competition in his final title run was none other than Gordon . "He's one of my heroes," Gordon said. "I would love to do something similar to what Terry has done. I raced against him in that '96 season when he won that championship and his experience, his calmness, the Iceman (persona), he blew me away that year with his ability to really just stay so consistent and strong and pull off that win. "So I've got firsthand experience to see a guy that hasn’t done it in a long time get it done." Gordon has finished in the top five of the final standings on five occasions since his last championship, including the runner-up in '07. But as he noted, it's only been recently that he felt his team had the tools and the chemistry to be considered a legitimate threat. The key players from '01 are still around, although most of the support staff has scattered here and there. Steve Letarte, wrapping up a final year as crew chief with Hendrick driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. , was a part of Gordon ’s title-winning efforts in '97 and '98 as the team’s tire specialist. In '01, he was a mechanic as well as the team’s rear-tire carrier. Chad Knaus, who would go on to lead Jimmie Johnson to six titles, was a part of the crew that won the title in '95 and '97 as well, but had departed by the time Gordon won No. 4 in '01. Johnson, Knaus and the 48 team are seen as one of Gordon's chief opponents for this year's crown. The wait for Johnson to try and add to his championship total has been brief. Barely 10 months ago he was celebrating a sixth title. For Gordon , it's been years. "That was a long time ago," Gordon said of his '01 title run. "The only thing I remember that reminds me of this year is having confidence in myself and the team, enjoying what we are doing and knowing we have a shot at winning races each and every weekend." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Get the latest Jeff Gordon news, media, stats, and standings for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver only on the official site of NASCAR.
Four-time champion has three career wins at 1-mile track Jeff Gordon has led the most laps of any driver to compete in the Sprint Cup Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . In 39 races, the four-time series champion has led 1,371 laps, while winning three races at the 1-mile track. Despite the high laps led count, Gordon has not won at the Loudon, New Hampshire track since 1998.
No. 22 joins Team Penske teammate in Contender Round MORE: Full race results " Updated series standings RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota LOUDON, N.H. -- Out of the maelstrom that was New Hampshire Motor Speedway sped Joey Logano , who took control of Sunday's Sylvania 300 on a restart with 27 laps left and held on to win the second race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. But the crux of Sunday's race wasn't about Logano's fourth victory of the season and the second straight for Team Penske in the Chase. It wasn't about Logano winning for the seventh time in his career and punching his ticket into the second elimination round under NASCAR's new playoff format. It wasn't about Sunoco rookie Kyle Larson posting his second straight top-three finish. Yes, Larson ran second, passing third-place finisher Kevin Harvick on a green-white-checkered flag restart that took the race three laps past its scheduled distance, but Larson was almost an afterthought amid the chaos that scrambled the Chase standings. It wasn't about another strong run for Jamie McMurray , who finished fourth, or about a top-five for six-time champion Jimmie Johnson , who came home fifth. It wasn't about the crazy afternoon of polesitter Brad Keselowski , who ran back and forth through the field like a yo-yo, spun on Lap 194 of a scheduled 300 and nevertheless had a chance to win the race at the end before falling back to seventh on the restart that took the race to overtime. No, the crux of the race wasn't about the winner. It was about those who survived the crucible of pressure the Chase creates -- and those who didn't. It was about uncharacteristic mistakes on pit road. It was about the aggression and desperation on the track that left the cars of six of 16 Chase drivers in relative states of damage and disrepair. It was about Aric Almirola 's heroic drive to a sixth-place finish after the heartbreak of a late engine failure last week at Chicagoland Speedway . It was about a 13th-place finish for AJ Allmendinger , who re-entered the Chase conversation, as did Almirola, by avoiding the calamities that placed some of their more potent peers on the cusp of elimination. But first, credit to Logano, who survived a succession of restarts in a race littered with cautions -- 13 of a total 15 in the last 134 laps -- and prevailed on tires that, thanks to crew chief Todd Gordon's astute call with 53 laps left in regulation, were superior to those of the drivers in contention on the final restart. Logano won Sunday’s race at a track that gave him his first victory in NASCAR’s premier series -- but a win that will always have an asterisk in Logano's mind because it resulted from a fortunate pit call in a rain-shortened race. The call for four tires on Lap 247 helped Logano on Sunday, but he had to earn the win, and he did so with a bold charge past Harvick and Keselowski on the Lap 274 restart. "I thought we gave it away at that point," said Logano, who traded track position for the new rubber and restarted 16th on Lap 251. "But four tires were good, and we had some good restarts and were able to get ourselves back up there. We worked hard. This is my home race track, the coolest place to win for me. I could never pick a better race track to win. I watched my first Cup race here when I was 5, and I won that other Cup race here, but I just felt like I had to win one the right way here, and this means so much. "I've got to thank all the boys at Team Penske. We're doing what we've got to do to win this thing right now -- both teams are -- and I'm proud of that. This is my home track, so it means so much to me." If Logano was elated with the victory, other Chase drivers experienced a gamut of emotions that ranged from relief to abject misery. Kyle Busch crumpled the hood of his car in a wreck that started when Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth got loose in traffic on the backstretch. Busch's team did yeoman work to keep him on the lead lap, setting up an eighth-place finish. Dale Earnhardt Jr. brought his No. 88 Chevrolet to pit road for an unscheduled stop on Lap 123 to tighten a loose wheel -- the result of a hurried-but-unsuccessful attempt to tighten the lugs -- and lost a lap in the process. But Earnhardt regained his lap under caution and salvaged a ninth-place finish, so no harm done to his hopes of advancing after next Sunday's race at Dover . Kenseth survived the melee with Busch on Lap 188 but was gobbled up in a wreck with Paul Menard on Lap 270 and finished 21st. When Busch slowed after contact with Kenseth, he was rear-ended by the No. 5 Chevy of Kasey Kahne , who obliterated the nose of his car. Kahne finished 23rd. Ryan Newman also got a piece of that same accident and came home 18th. But the real casualties of the afternoon were Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin , who finished 36th and 37th, respectively and saw their hopes of advancing to the next round take a serious turn for the worse. Hamlin led early but a problem with the fuel probe in his No. 11 Toyota prevented his crew from filling the fuel cell. All told, Hamlin lost four laps as his team tried to rectify the issue. But Hamlin's woes were far from over. On Lap 180, he slid into a Turn 2 wreck involving Martin Truex Jr . and David Ragan , knocked his right front wheel out of kilter and took the car to the garage. He lost another 34 laps before returning to the track. Kurt Busch had to return to pit road on Lap 109 to tighten a loose wheel. Busch fell one lap down after Harvick passed him on Lap 162, but got the lap back as the beneficiary under a debris caution called on Lap 170. But that was a brief reprieve. Busch was running 15th when he clobbered the Turn 3 wall on Lap 221. He lost 35 laps in the garage before returning on Lap 255. After Sunday's race, only 12 points separate Kenseth in eighth from Almirola in 16th, with Carl Edwards , Allmendinger, Kahne, Newman, Hamlin, Biffle and Kurt Busch in between. The tightness of the standings sets up a free-for-all next Sunday at the Monster Mile for the remaining spots in the Chase's second round. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Chase standings leader wins pole at New Hampshire RELATED: Qualifying results LOUDON, N.H. -- You couldn't script a better beginning to Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup for Brad Keselowski , who showed no sign of stopping his relentless run toward a second championship on Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Fresh from a dramatic victory in last Sunday's first Chase race at Chicagoland Speedway , Keselowski blew away the track record in winning the pole for Sunday's Sylvania 300 at the Magic Mile (2 p.m. ET on ESPN). The Coors Light Pole Award was Keselowski's fifth of the season, the eight of his career and his third in 11 starts at the 1.058-mile flat track. In the second and final round of knockout qualifying, Keselowski covered the distance in 27.090 seconds (140.598 mph) to edge Jamie McMurray (140.437 mph) for the top starting spot by .031 seconds. Kevin Harvick qualified third for the second Chase race at 140.065 mph. "The kind of track is kind of right in my wheelhouse, right in our team’s wheelhouse," said Keselowski, who won the July race at New Hampshire in dominating fashion. "We had this race circled before the Chase started, and we felt decent about Chicago, but we really felt like this was a race of emphasis for us to get a win and get out of the first bracket (three-race elimination round). "It's good, right? We just want to keep it going." Despite the excellent performances of the first two weeks, Keselowski isn't ready to claim ownership of the title just yet. "With the resets (after each round), the success of today really means nothing come Homestead (where the four remaining eligible drivers will race for the title, with the highest finisher among the four claiming the prize)," Keselowski said. "It's great. It's positive momentum. It's everything you want to do, and it’s everything you think you should do. "But when it resets, it resets, and nothing that you've done in the past really matters, as long as you're eligible for the bracket. I'm a long, long way from using the word favorite or feeling overly confident." McMurray, who did not make the Chase field, was pleased with his effort in qualifying. "I felt like, in my first run, I didn't get everything out of the car and maybe left a little bit on the table," McMurray said. "The first run I didn't think I got it all, but the second run out (in the final round), the second lap was really good. "Honestly, I came off Turn 4 and tried to run three laps and tried to just drive a little bit harder, but the tires just wouldn’t hold up for another quick lap." Chase drivers who will start in the top 12 on Sunday include Denny Hamlin (fourth), Kyle Busch (fifth), Jimmie Johnson (sixth), Joey Logano (seventh), Carl Edwards (eighth), Ryan Newman (ninth) and Dale Earnhardt Jr . (11th) Keselowski led the first of the two qualifying sessions with a lap at 139.614 mph (27.281 seconds), a scant .005 seconds faster than the No. 99 of fellow Ford driver Edwards. All told, 26 drivers in the 30-minute first round broke the track qualifying record of 138.130 mph (27.574 seconds) set by Kyle Busch on July 11, 2014. Earnhardt Jr. was the 12th and last driver to advance to the second session with a lap at 138.987 mph (27.404 mph). Chase drivers Jeff Gordon (13th), Kurt Busch (15th), Matt Kenseth (16th), Kasey Kahne (17th), Aric Almirola (21st), Greg Biffle (26th) and AJ Allmendinger (27th) failed to advance to the 10-minute final round. Notes: The track qualifying record was the 19th set this year in Sprint Cup Series time trials, in the first year of the knockout format. ... Keselowski has accounted for four of those records. ... The last two times Keselowski has won a pole for a Sprint Cup race (at Kentucky and Richmond), he has also won the race. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Gordon , Keselowski lead sessions from New Hampshire
See where your favorite driver will line up on pit road MORE: Starting lineup RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Brad Keselowski , who seeks a sweep of both New Hampshire Motor Speedway NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races this season and a sweep of the first two Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup events, will start on the Coors Light Pole in the Sylvania 300 (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN). The first driver to advance to the Contender Round of the Chase Grid also earned the first pit pick on pit road, chose the first stall at pit exit toward Turn 1. Jamie McMurray, who qualified second, selected the 32nd stall on the Turn 4 side of pit road with an opening in front of him. The third-place qualifier, Kevin Harvick , picked the 29th pit stall with an opening ahead of him as well. The other Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers, joining Keselowski and Harvick, picked the following pits: Joey Logano : Stall 3 Matt Kenseth : Stall 5 Kasey Kahne : Stall 7 Dale Earnhardt Jr. : Stall 9 Greg Biffle : Stall 15 Kyle Busch : Stall 19 AJ Allmendinger : Stall 21 Kurt Busch : Stall 26 Ryan Newman : Stall 28 Denny Hamlin : Stall 31 Aric Almirola : Stall 34 Jimmie Johnson : Stall 41 Jeff Gordon : Stall 42 Carl Edwards : Stall 43 MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Drivers Jeff Gordon and Denny Hamlin discuss whether or not Brad Keselowski still has the dominate car in Loudon this weekend and who has a chance to beat him.