Agnew crashes head-on
Jeff Agnew spins crashing head-on into the inside wall.
Thunder in the hills: North Wilkesboro, 20 years later
NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. -- Paint peels and memories fade but the echoes of the past still ring off the hillsides here. Twenty years ago today, the checkered flag fell on the final NASCAR premier series race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Bob Flock won the first race, in 1949 and on dirt. Jeff Gordon won the last, in 1996 and on asphalt. The two races serve as bookends for a track that even after 20 years of silence serves as a reminder of the sport's colorful past. For 48 years and 93 races, NASCAR teams made the trek to the secluded .625-mile track in the Brushy Mountains of northwestern North Carolina. "It's one of the sport's most historic tracks, one that really helped put NASCAR on the map," car owner Richard Childress said. "A lot of people overlook that. But a lot of great things happened there. (Former series sponsor) R.J. Reynolds really supported it; Holly Farms back in the day … all those things were important to building our sport to what it is today." Built by Wilkes County resident Enoch Staley and partners Lawson Curry and Jack and Charlie Combs, North Wilkesboro Speedway was a venue unlike any other -- in part because the front straightaway ran slightly downhill and the backstretch uphill. It opened in 1947, two years before the debut of NASCAR's Strictly Stock Series, and hosted its first NASCAR premier series event in October of '49. The Wilkes 200 featured a 22-car field and was the final race of the inaugural season for NASCAR's new featured series. Flock won the race but it was Red Byron, finishing 16th, who captured the series' first championship. RELATED: Veterans share fond memories of track
Relive the last NSCS race at the historic North Wilkesboro Speedway
Take a look back as Jeff Gordon wins the last race at North Wilkesboro Speedway in the Sprint Cup Series on September 29th, 1996.
Sprint Cup qualifying canceled at Dover; Keselowski on pole
RELATED: Complete Dover lineup " See the field " Updated Chase Grid Friday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying session at Dover International Speedway was canceled because of rain. The lineup was set according to the NASCAR rule book, putting Brad Keselowski on the pole for Sunday's Citizen Solider 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Martin Truex Jr ., in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota, will start on the front row alongside the No. 2 Team Penske Ford. "We earned it because, obviously, we've been having a great season, maybe not with what we've done on track today, but with what we've done throughout the course of the year in scoring a lot of points and winning races," Keselowski said. "But it's certainly still something to be very proud of, to be this far into the season and be in the points lead. These are the perks you get when you're in that position. We'll take it, and of course, being up front gives us a very advantageous pit road selection for this race, which I think is very critical." The three-round, group qualifying effort at the 1-mile concrete oval was scheduled to begin at 3:40 p.m. ET, but wet weather delayed that schedule. This marks the third straight Sprint Cup event at Dover that qualifying has been washed out by rain. Kevin Harvick , Paul Menard , Michael Annett , AJ Allmendinger and Jeff Gordon will select pit stalls for Sunday's race last as their respective teams received a fourth written warning from NASCAR. Sunday's Citizen Soldier 400 is the final event in the 10-race Chase's opening Round of 16. The results will determine which 12 drivers remain championship-eligible and which four fail to advance in the postseason. Kyle Larson holds the final transfer spot entering the Dover race with a five-point lead over Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates teammate Jamie McMurray and Richard Childress Racing 's Austin Dillon . Larson will start 12th, with McMurray and Dillon directly behind him in 13th and 14th, respectively. The second of two NASCAR XFINITY Series practices was cut short by rain. The practice lasted about nearly half of its scheduled 85 minutes before being put on hold and eventually called due to rain. Contributing: NASCAR Wire Service &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Top 10 consecutive lap averages for Dover
Sprint Cup final practice at Dover was canceled Saturday because of rain. Practice 1: Results Pos Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg Speed 1 18 Kyle Busch 39 48 159.336 2 4 Kevin Harvick 1 10 158.212 3 3 Austin Dillon 6 15 156.671 4 6 Trevor Bayne 1 10 156.561 Practice 2: Results Pos Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg Speed 1 27 Paul Menard 1 10 157.850 2 24 Chase Elliott # 1 10 156.379 3 88 Jeff Gordon 29 38 156.039 4 1 Jamie McMurray 19 28 155.803 5 18 Kyle Busch 1 10 155.456 6 41 Kurt Busch 20 29 154.462 7 21 * Ryan Blaney # 17 26 154.370 8 23 David Ragan 1 10 153.849 9 15 Clint Bowyer 8 17 152.675 * Car must run 10 consecutive laps on the track to be included in the above charts.
Jeff Gordon won't drive No. 88 car at Michigan
RELATED: Dale Jr. offers rehab update on social media BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s return to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition remains undetermined. But if the series' most popular driver remains sidelined when the series heads to Michigan International Speedway for the Aug. 28 Pure Michigan 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), it will be Alex Bowman and not Jeff Gordon handling the driving duties of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet. Gordon, who made his fourth start for the team at Bristol Motor Speedway , will not be available due to a prior commitment, according to Hendrick officials. However, the four-time series champion will travel to Michigan to support the team on Sunday. Earnhardt is recovering from concussion-like symptoms that have kept him sidelined since July. The Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol was the fifth race he's missed. Bowman drove for the team at Loudon, New Hampshire, following Earnhardt's initial diagnosis. Gordon took over the following week, and has competed at Indianapolis, Pocono and Watkins Glen prior to Bristol. Bowman, 23, finished 26th in his fill-in role for Earnhardt at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Gordon, meanwhile, has finishes of 13th, 27th, 14th and 11th, respectively, in his four starts with the team. . @JeffGordonWeb has prior commitment that won't allow him to be in Mich. for entire race wknd. @AlexBRacing to sub if @DaleJr isn't cleared. — Hendrick 88 Team (@Hendrick88Team) August 19, 2016 Happy to be on standby for @DaleJr and @TeamHendrick at @MISpeedway . Hopefully Dale is cleared but if not I'm ready to go! — Alex Bowman (@AlexBRacing) August 20, 2016 UPDATE: The 88 team does not expect to make an announcement for Michigan until Wednesday afternoon. We don’t expect to make an announcement regarding @MISpeedway before Wednesday afternoon. — Hendrick 88 Team (@Hendrick88Team) August 22, 2016 &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;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;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
When Jeff met Junior: Gordon recalls first meeting with Dale Jr.
RELATED: Latest updates, timeline of Dale Jr.'s recovery BRISTOL, Tenn. -- The first time he met Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Jeff Gordon never imagined that he would one day drive in relief for his Hendrick Motorsports teammate. Yet here Saturday night, Gordon will do just that, suiting up for the fourth consecutive race to drive the organization's No. 88 Chevrolet in place of Earnhardt in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Earnhardt has been sidelined since mid-July due to concussion-like symptoms and the timing of his return has yet to be determined. Their first meeting came in the mid 1990s at North Wilkesboro Speedway when Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Earnhardt Jr.'s father, were at the top of their game. The elder Earnhardt was already a legendary figure in the sport; Gordon was on his way to becoming one. The cheering and jeering of the Earnhardt and Gordon fans was a weekly occurrence at tracks across the country. That the two would go on to become both friends and business associates seemed unfathomable to those in the grandstands. "I remember sitting there on pit road and Dale Sr. and he came walking by … it was the first time I ever met (Junior)," Gordon told NASCAR.com recently. "They were getting ready to qualify; I don't remember if he was driving a Late Model maybe … I don't exactly remember but I knew he'd been doing some racing and was building some momentum. "I remember that he was very respectful. It was cool to meet him and then shortly after that see him rise as quick as he did." Gordon "retired" from competition at the end of 2015, with four series titles and 93 career victories. The last time he visited Bristol, he was working in the television booth, just two months into his new role as a FOX NASCAR analyst. RELATED: Remembering some of the top moments at Bristol Now, he's back behind the wheel at a track where he notched five wins and five of 81 career poles. Hendrick officials announced July 14 that doctors had not cleared Earnhardt Jr. to compete the following weekend at New Hampshire. Alex Bowman stepped in and finished 26th in his only start with the team. Gordon took over the driving duties for races at Indianapolis (13th ), Pocono (27th ) and most recently Watkins Glen (14th ). Getting back in the car, and the No. 88 in particular, was an unusual feeling for Gordon although the 45-year-old certainly garnered his share of the spotlight throughout his career. "I knew it was a big story," he said of the return, "but still until you’re living it and the reality of it is there, you don't know how your heart's going to beat, how your hands are going to sweat. That first time on track at Indy, I was sweating. And not just because of the heat. "It would be different if I had been out for one week or two weeks. But I'd been out for eight months. I hadn't really driven this package. There's added pressure because of the situation, it being Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s car. To me the pressure was more about the performance." Earnhardt, who also missed two races in 2012 after suffering a concussion, is a two-time champion in NASCAR’s XFINITY Series and has 26 Sprint Cup victories. His absence from competition has seen him fall from 13th to 21st in the points standings. His move to the XFINITY Series (then Busch Grand National) is one Gordon hasn't forgotten either. Earnhardt made one start in the series '96 and eight in '97 before going full-time the following season. "I went to see Dale Sr. about some business and he said 'Hey come check out Dale Jr.'s car for Watkins Glen," Gordon said. "… I looked at the car and remember it wasn't fancy, wasn't some super premium piece of equipment. The shifter on it was so long. Total old school. At that point we had been making really nice transmissions, road course cars, short shifters and all those things." Gordon said he took the opportunity for a bit of friendly ribbing. "I gave Senior a hard time," he said. "I was like 'What's this? You're going to make him go to Watkins Glen in this? That shifter is just wrong. This car is not at all what he deserves.'" Earnhardt wasn't swayed by the comments, according to Gordon. "He goes, 'Oh no. I'm going to make him work for it. He's not going to have it easy; he's going to work on it himself. I'm not going give him the best equipment. He's not going to learn anything being in the best equipment. He's going to have to drive some mediocre equipment so he can learn.' "And I thought that was pretty cool." &amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;
4 in a Row: Relive Jeff Gordon's win over Mark Martin in 1998
Watch as Jeff Gordon passes Mark Martin in the Pepsi 400 in 1998 at MIS with 9 laps to go to take home the checkered flag. This victory was Gordon's fourth consecutive win in a season where he went on to win 13 races.
Gordon fastest in rain-shortened Dover practice
RELATED: Practice results " Junior gives update in Dover garage Jeff Gordon , filling in for the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr ., topped the leaderboard in Saturday's first of two scheduled Sprint Cup Series practices at Dover International Speedway at 160.514 mph in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Right behind him was Ricky Stenhouse Jr . in the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford at 159.610 mph. Rounding out the top five were Ryan Newman in the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet (159.419 mph), Kasey Kahne in the No. 5 HMS Chevrolet (159.405 mph) and Paul Menard in the No. 27 RCR Chevrolet (159.011). Series points leader Brad Keselowski was 22nd fastest with a speed of 157.020 mph in the No. 2 Team Penske Ford. Martin Truex Jr . and Kevin Harvick , who have each clinched a berth to the next Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup round, were 28th and eighth, respectively. The final practice session was set to begin at 1:30 p.m. ET, but weather prevented the cars from getting on track. The Sprint Cup Series will return Sunday for the Citizen Soldier 400 at 2 p.m. ET (NBCSN, MRN, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio).
Jeff Gordon: Behind-the-scenes at SNL in his own words
RELATED: Jeff Gordon, the driver who brought NASCAR mainstream In celebration of four-time NASCAR premier series champion Jeff Gordon 's 45th birthday on Thursday, the veteran driver released another excerpt from his upcoming biography, this time detailing his whirlwind experience while on the set of Saturday Night Live, which he hosted in 2003. New book excerpt: “I was overwhelmed. I was seriously concerned at this point.” -> https://t.co/pTSqSgfwQh . #TeamJG pic.twitter.com/S6fN20Av90 — Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) August 4, 2016 The driver, currently filling in for Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr . in the No. 88 Chevrolet, details how harrowing of an experience it was for him, describing being "out of (his) element" and "scared (expletive)-less." It also details how Gordon's appearance showed how the sport had outgrown its regional roots and was becoming more mainstream -- much of which is a direct result of Gordon, himself. Check out the full excerpt here and be sure to pre-order your copy of Gordon's book which ships in October. MORE: Gordon through the years " Gordon's 45th win in honor of 45th birthday