Gordon's love for Charlotte lasting, 22 years after first win
Photo credit: Charlotte Motor Speedway CONCORD, N.C. – With its close proximity to race shops, Charlotte Motor Speedway is known as the home track for most of the NASCAR community. But Tuesday's gathering at the 1.5-mile speedway had more of a tourist feel, as fans hailed from places near and far. There was the man from Bakersfield, California, – "Harvick country," he states proudly – the fan from Switzerland, the Canadian couple and everyone in between. They wore different numbers on their shirts and spoke with different accents, but they were all there to see one man. Mr. Jeff Gordon . The FOX Sports analyst and four-time NASCAR champion helped celebrate the 10 Days of NASCAR Thunder leading up to Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) by taking photos with 100 Charlotte ticketholders. Despite Gordon's retirement following his championship run last season, the fandom was as feverous as ever, as each visitor itched to exchange a few words with the former No. 24 driver. "It's slightly different (now) because many of them say a lot of the same things, 'I wish you were out there,' (or) 'I miss you being out there,'" Gordon said of the fans. "But I'm getting a lot of great comments about being up in the booth, so it's nice. I'm enjoying myself, so I think it comes across in the broadcast and interacting with the fans, I get to hear that from them as well." Gordon and the fans stood on the roof of the infield's Champion's Pavilion, the spot providing the group a birds-eye view of the quad oval. The track is impressive; a feeling Gordon reciprocates, as he recalls the first time he laid eyes on it. "I think it doesn't mean the same to everybody," Gordon said, "but for me, the very first time I ever came to North Carolina … when I drove by this facility, I was blown away. I'd seen Indianapolis Motor Speedway , but beyond that, I'd never seen anything that looked like this. Just the appearance of it put me in awe." Gordon found success at Charlotte early in his career, earning a runner-up result in his first race at the North Carolina track in 1993. And on Sunday, he'll broadcast his first Coca-Cola 600 ; 22 years after he earned his first-ever win in the Cup Series in the '94 running of the 600-mile event. The win put Gordon on the racing map and made folks wonder about this young "kid" from California who was driving nose-to-nose with Dale Earnhardt. RELATED: See all the winners of the longest race in NASCAR But Gordon's love affair with Charlotte began before the Victory Lane celebration. "When I drove a stock car here for the first time, I just fell in love with it," Gordon said. "I love the way the track flows, the banking, the grip level, bumps and everything that comes along with it. And of course, winning my first race, having it happen in the 600." The longest race on the Cup circuit, the Coca-Cola 600 has long been revered as one of NASCAR's biggest races – one of the sport's "Majors," as Gordon says. "Daytona, here, Brickyard , maybe a Southern 500, some would also say Talladega." Gordon said, rattling off a list of stock car racing's biggest events. "But this is a big , big deal to win this race. To me, it's probably second or third ranking in our series as far as most prestigious events." Winning the coveted Coca-Cola 600 trophy is no easy feat – the man who has won three of those races can tell you that. With the cars being more advanced today and eliminating some of the physical aspect, Gordon emphasizes the continued need for mental toughness. "You're talking about a minimum of four hours being in the car," Gordon said. "Pit crews, crew chiefs, everyone's on edge, not just the drivers … (They're) pushing the limits every single lap, which is not the way it used to be. You used to pace yourself and be able to manage the tires and your car and you could still be competitive at the end of the day – if you were in one piece. "That's not the case anymore – it's just all out. So, that mentally drains you by pushing that hard for that period of time." RELATED: Gordon embraces new career with 'contagious' energy The task of taming a 600-mile monster is daunting, especially for younger drivers. Gordon's No. 24 replacement Chase Elliott will attempt the feat, as he prepares to make his second Coca-Cola 600 start. Elliott, now in his rookie season, started 28th and finished 18th in the 2015 Coca-Cola 600 , then driving the No. 25 for Hendrick Motorsports . As for any advice from the former boss of the No. 24? Gordon said his 20-year-old successor doesn't need it. "I haven't had to give him much advice on the race track," Gordon said. "He's a natural … He gets better every weekend. "I'm excited for that 24 team. I had to defend a lot with fans being upset about them keeping the No. 24 and I said, 'Just wait, just wait, I think you're going to be proud of the results.' And now, I'm starting to see everybody's now saying, 'What a great replacement for the 24!' " Gordon's statement was validated by fans sporting Elliott-themed shirts earlier, one young boy in particular wearing a blue No. 24 NAPA hat. This fan will likely grow up knowing Elliott -- rather than Gordon -- as the driver of the legendary No. 24 Chevrolet. It's a mark of a racing transition, a generational shift. And Gordon loves it. "Listen, I love seeing the sport grow," he said. "I'm still heavily involved in the sport, not just from the FOX side, but from Hendrick Motorsports . And I think the sport is amazing right now. The racing is as good as it's ever been. We have some great young talents. Not to mention veterans that are doing great things … I'm all for bringing new fans and seeing fans get excited about it, people like Chase or Ryan Blaney or Kyle Larson . "I support it 100 percent."
Burnouts, battles and big bucks fill the Rearview Mirror
NASCAR.com's Chuck Bush looks in the Rearview Mirror at a wild, wacky and exciting weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway during NASCAR's All-Star events.
Cassill loses eight pounds in Brickyard 400
Driver documents fluids taken and weight lost at Indianapolis Landon Cassill performed a "science experiment" during Sunday's Crown Royal presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The full-time driver in both the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series proved his stamina after May's Coca-Cola 600 , running 14 miles to the NASCAR Hall of Fame following NASCAR's longest race of the season. He also qualified to compete in next month's Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Austria. As he braved temperatures that saw one in-car thermometer in Casey Mears ' car reach at least 131 degrees, Cassill had a query: How much weight would a driver lose over 400 miles in a race? See the results of his experiment below. Science experiment! My pre race weight, I'm planning on taking in 80oz of fluids in the race, we'll see what I lose. pic.twitter.com/QJ0W071Yz3 — landon cassill (@landoncassill) July 26, 2015 Consumed 110oz fluids & 1100 calories->post race 147.4lbs. That's -15lbs, replaced 7 of it with fluids, net loss 8lbs pic.twitter.com/WsXq6rsvO0 — landon cassill (@landoncassill) July 26, 2015 That's a 10% gross loss of body weight, getting it back to 5% with fluid replacement. I think I'd like to see closer to 3%. — landon cassill (@landoncassill) July 26, 2015 I few more stats from the 110oz of fluids I took in...1,100 Cal, 1,978mg of sodium, 264g Carbs, 572mg Potassium — landon cassill (@landoncassill) July 26, 2015 FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Sherry Pollex readies for 'Catwalk for a Cause' atop big month
RELATED: Learn more about 'Catwalk for a Cause' The Martin Truex Jr . Foundation hosts its biggest event of the year -- "Catwalk for a Cause" -- on Wednesday. The seventh annual fashion show helps raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer. Sherry Pollex, Truex's longtime girlfriend, plays a strong role in the campaign. She raised the idea in 2010, and the event has taken on new meaning since Pollex's ovarian cancer diagnosis in August 2014. The event is from 6-10 p.m. ET in Mooresville, North Carolina. Last year's version had more than 600 people attend and raised more than $250,000. Earlier this month, the NASCAR community rallied around Sherry Pollex on May 10 to send her well wishes on her birthday, a big day for the philanthropist after she completed her final chemotherapy treatment in January. Pollex had an extra special reason to celebrate her day as she launched her website SherryStrong.org -- a platform for her to connect with those affected by cancer. Wish @SherryPollex a #HappyBirthday ! Stop by @MTJFoundation to support Martin & Sherry's fight against cancer: https://t.co/LSJRyOLbHY — Furniture Row Racing (@FR78Racing) May 10, 2016 Happy birthday to the American badass, @SherryPollex ! TIME FOR DANCE. #NASCAR https://t.co/WoI3BI5B5b — nascarcasm (@nascarcasm) May 10, 2016 https://t.co/pt2bzo8wGC — Sherry Pollex (@SherryPollex) May 10, 2016 MORE: Learn more about 'Catwalk for a Cause'
Hall's call: 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame class revealed
RELATED: More on the Hall of Fame " See all of the nominees CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Two phenomenally successful contemporary car owners, a champion driver-turned-beloved-broadcaster, a driver with a prolific winning history and the man described as NASCAR racing's "original car owner" are the newly elected members of the 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame class. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France introduced the new inductees on Wednesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, calling this group of five perhaps "the greatest class yet." The new members, selected from a group of 20 nominees, include 1973 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and 1975 Daytona 500 winner Benny Parsons, who later became one of the most revered television broadcasters in the sport's history; team owner Rick Hendrick, who has notched a record 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series titles; driver Mark Martin, whose 96 career victories across NASCAR's three national touring series are sixth all-time; car owner Raymond Parks, whose cars won the first NASCAR modified title in 1948 and NASCAR's first premier series title a year later; and car owner Richard Childress, whose pairing with Hall of Fame driver Dale Earnhardt produced six championships and 67 victories in NASCAR's top division. Martinsville Speedway founder H. Clay Earles is this year's recipient of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. MORE: Hall of Fame reaction pours in Parsons, who succumbed to lung cancer on Jan. 16, 2007, was named on 85 percent of ballots cast by the NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Committee. Parsons had been on the ballot for eight years. "This is the biggest honor of Benny's life," said Terri Parsons, his widow. "It summarizes everything he has ever worked toward. Every job he has ever had, be it as a race car driver in all divisions, host of NASCAR radio shows, NASCAR color commentator for TV networks each were just as important to him as the next. "He lived his life for NASCAR fans and helping to make the sport of auto racing a better sport for them to enjoy. I know he is smiling his big smile tonight saying, 'Unbelievable!' " In a career that spanned 25 years, Parsons won 21 Sprint Cup races in 526 starts, but he was a top-10 machine , recording 283 for a staggering percentage of 53.8. Hendrick, who received 62 percent of the vote, has won car owner titles in the Sprint Cup Series with three different drivers -- six with Jimmie Johnson , four with Jeff Gordon and one with fellow Hall of Famer Terry Labonte . Hendrick's 242 owner wins in the premier series rank second all-time. "I'm extremely proud to go in with Benny Parsons and Mark Martin , who drove for me, and then Richard Childress, who's one of my closest friends in the sport," Hendrick said. "Parks… I watched the video on him, and he kind of helped the sport get started. "So I'm really humbled to be in the position I'm in. I've been doing it now for 33 years, and I hope that we've got some more things to accomplish, but I'm very, very appreciative of the fact that I got voted in while I’m still racing." Martin, who garnered 57 percent of the vote, boasts the highest Sprint Cup victory total (40) of any eligible driver not already inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. In addition, Martin has 49 NASCAR XFINITY Series wins to his credit (second all-time), along with seven wins in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. His 56 Sprint Cup poles rank seventh on the all-time list. PHOTOS: Martin, other inductees through the years Martin, who was runner-up in the final Sprint Cup standings on five occasions, most recently in 2009 at age 50, described his selection to the Hall of Fame as the "crown jewel of my career." "I didn't expect it," Martin said. "And I'm so grateful to the people who helped me get there… I have so many great memories of the sport. The class that I'm being inducted in, I’m humbled to no end." Parks, named on 53 percent of the ballots, funded his racing operations through his successful real estate ventures in Atlanta. With mechanic Red Vogt tuning his cars, Parks dominated stock car racing in the 1940s and 1950s, teaming with Red Byron to win the inaugural modified title in 1948 and the first premier series championship in 1949. Also included on Parks' roster of drivers over the years were Bob Flock, Roy Hall, Fonty Flock and NASCAR Hall of Famer Curtis Turner. Park, who has been on the Hall of Fame ballot for eight years, passed away in 2010 at age 96. Childress, who was included on 43 percent of voting panel ballots, started his career as a driver but found considerably more success in the sport as an owner. In addition to the races and titles he won with Earnhardt, Childress holds 11 owner's championship trophies in NASCAR's top three series, second only to Hendrick's 14. Childress performed the posthumous induction of close friend and driver Dale Earnhardt into the first NASCAR Hall of Fame Class. "I was really, really honored and proud that day," Childress said. "I didn't really expect to get in because I was told that the only way you were going to get in was to retire or be deceased -- and I sure liked the first one better, and I haven't got plans to retire yet either." Landmark Award winner Earles had a simple business philosophy that made Martinsville Speedway one of the most pre-eminent short tracks in the country. "The secret to success in our business is giving the customer what he wants," Earles said before his death in 1999. "When a man plunks down his money, he deserves the best. You try to make him comfortable, give him a great show and make sure he gets his money's worth. And we've always tried to do just that. "Your customers are your greatest assets, and that will never change. You actually sell the customer a memory as much as a race. If their memories are good, they’ll keep coming back." Note: Hendrick and Childress will field a combined seven cars in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (6 p.m. ET on FOX).
Best in-car audio from the AAA 400 Drive for Autism
Check out some of the best in-car audio from the AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover International Speedway as Martin Truex Jr.'s bad luck continues and Matt Kenseth gets his first win of the year.
Keelan Harvick wins the 'Little Brickyard 400'
Eight tweets from around the NASCAR Twitterverse Editor's note: Every Friday "Tweets you might have missed" will present eight of the best NASCAR-related tweets from the week. 1. Tonight's feature winner of the "Little Brickyard 400 " pic.twitter.com/kzmjz41IzL — DeLana Harvick (@DeLanaHarvick) August 1, 2015 2. T-shirt game strong. pic.twitter.com/I8PV5ZiLNw — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) August 5, 2015 3. Owens gonna have some fun! pic.twitter.com/Erhq8MKfcp — Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) August 4, 2015 4. Someone really likes her new life jacket if you can't tell by her face #ILoveLucy pic.twitter.com/fMmoDLLjeU — Samantha Busch (@SamanthaBusch) August 4, 2015 5. Have no idea whose bike this is but he knows "COOL" pic.twitter.com/SQpALgOUVi — Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) August 1, 2015 6. 5 & flying! pic.twitter.com/Lc1d41q22o — Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) August 5, 2015 7. Vintage Paint By Number: Original @FrontRowJoe87 No. 87. #NASCAR #Vintage pic.twitter.com/LK6lY3q1RI — Joe Nemechek (@FrontRowJoe87) August 5, 2015 8. Doing a video shoot up here in Wilkes County for @FordPerformance . Look at the gift they gave me! Ha #RealNiceGuys pic.twitter.com/dt0C4L4oY1 — Joey Logano (@joeylogano) August 4, 2015 FAN TWEET OF THE WEEK: @AJDinger already picked you for this weekend, so this has to be a good sign right?? #nascaronnbc #nascar pic.twitter.com/EodULVaaNg — Britty (@brit_a_rit) August 6, 2015
The streak continues, Busch wins Brickyard 400
Kyle Busch holds off a charge by Joey Logano on a green-white-checkered-finish and gets his first win in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, sweeping the weekend.
Buescher aims to power past big -track bumps
RELATED: Watch Buescher's Talladega tumble KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Chris Buescher 's Sprint Cup restrictor plate racing career has started off with a pair of loud bangs, and they weren't Victory Lane fireworks. The Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate took a hard hit in the 2016 season opener at Daytona International Speedway , with a nose-first crash into the SAFER barrier. Afterward, Buescher said it was the hardest hit he had ever taken in racing. Then last week in the GEICO 500 , the 23-year-old Front Row Motorsports driver went rolling down the backstretch of Talladega Superspeedway after his No. 34 Ford made contact with Kyle Larson 's No. 42 Chevrolet. "It's been a little bit of a rocky start to the season with a couple accidents and a little bit of bad luck," Buescher told NASCAR.com on Friday, assessing his 2016 season so far. Seven cars wound up being caught up in that second accident in Talladega, which was triggered by contact between Austin Dillon and Jamie McMurray just past the halfway mark of the race. Buescher says the Daytona hit was exponentially worse. "There was no sudden loss of momentum at Talladega," Buescher said. "It looked spectacular. But it did not have near the impact." Carl Edwards and Brian Scott both became up-close spectators for Buescher's wreck last weekend. "I went by (Chris) Buescher flipping down the back straightaway and I just -- I mean, he was flipping the entire time I was going by and I thought, 'Man, I hope nobody hits him in the roll cage,' " Edwards said Friday at Kansas Speedway . "I went and looked at his car afterwards and those are very risky situations." Buescher said that Scott was going to be the car that hit him if the No. 44 driver couldn't get his Ford slowed down fast enough behind the tumbling No. 34. " Brian Scott was right behind us the whole time as we were flipping and was like, 'Man, it's amazing how quickly your car slows down as it's flipping through the air.' He said, 'I'm on the brakes, I'm downshifting, doing everything I can to slow down and I'm still catching you.' " Buescher said he has been upside down once before, but that was in a Legends car, and he actually finished that race in the top 10. "It was a much lazier flip, and it just kind of on its roof all the way around the corner. We just flipped it over and finished like sixth or something like that. It wasn't a big deal." Another wreck illustrating the difference between force and optics came later in the Talladega race, as Matt Kenseth 's No. 20 Toyota went up in the air but Danica Patrick 's No. 10 Chevrolet went directly into the SAFER barrier, leaving the Stewart-Haas Racing driver bent over against the inside wall and experiencing a pinch when she breathed. Patrick had chest X-rays in the Talladega care center and was cleared. Kenseth was unhurt, and Patrick said Friday that she "got a couple bruises but I feel really good. I think I'm very fortunate that I'm short. I'm lucky there was a SAFER barrier. And you gotta thank the man above for an accident like that and not having any problems." Patrick said the steering wheel and the pedals all came crushing in toward her. Buescher said that the way he has seen and heard Patrick talk about handling major wrecks helped him. "I tried to tuck in," Buescher said of his 'Dega barrel roll. "Danica might have been the first one that I realized starting doing it, just tucking in during situations where you've lost all hope of saving it. "I was just hoping no one was going to hit us. It's that second impact that's really gonna hurt." Scott did get slowed down, the rest of the field avoided them, and Buescher's Ford landed on all four wheels, the driver quickly radioing, "I'm OK." Buescher was not injured in the wreck. "I actually didn't have anything afterwards. Went to the chiropractor just to check up on everything. I had to go a lot more after Daytona." Buescher was ultimately scored as finishing 37th at Talladega and 39th at Daytona. He enters Saturday's GoBowling 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) in 34th place in the standings and looking to top his series-best finish of 20th as his Front Row Motorsports team continues to jell.
Best in-car audio from the Brickyard 400
Check out the best in-car audio from the Brickyard 400 as Kyle Busch sweeps the weekend and gets his third NSCS win in a row at Indianapolis Motor Speedway