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Gordon ties Ricky Rudd for most consecutive starts
RELATED: Watch Gordon's first Chicagoland win JOLIET, Ill. -- Jeff Gordon made his 788th consecutive start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on Sunday, equaling the series record established by former driver Ricky Rudd . Barring some catastrophic occurrence, a week from now at New Hampshire Motor Speedway , the 44-year-old will break Rudd's longstanding mark. From his first start on Nov. 20, 1992 through this weekend's myAFibRisk.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway , Gordon has been one of the few constants in the series. Primary sponsorship of the series has changed -- what was Winston Cup is now Sprint Cup ; tracks have been added and subtracted; cars have evolved, rules have been re-written. Champions have come and champions have gone. Gordon, however, has persevered. Since his first start in Sprint Cup , he has always driven the No. 24 Chevrolet and he has always driven for owner Rick Hendrick. "That's one of those things I feel strange talking about because I do appreciate and respect the safety of this sport and the side that it can be taken away from you at any time," Gordon said of the milestone. "I want to break that record. I think it's a huge accomplishment because it's not that easy to do. It's easier today I think because the sport is safer. "I look at Ricky Rudd ; what he went through to make it is pretty extraordinary so I can't quite compare to that, but I've been in this sport a long time, I've been in every single race and that is definitely a stat that I will look back on and be very proud of when we accomplish that at New Hampshire." NASCAR Hall of Fame member and 1988 series champion Bill Elliott won the race at Atlanta in which Gordon made his first Sprint Cup start. In an unusual twist, Chase Elliott , Bill's son, will take over the driving duties of the No. 24 entry beginning next season as Gordon steps aside to begin a career outside the car that will include a stint in the broadcast booth with FOX Sports. "How old is Jeff, 50?" fellow driver Clint Bowyer quipped earlier this week during a break in testing at Kansas Speedway . "It seems like he ought to be 60 as long as he's been in this sport. "When you think about the bruisers, the tough guys of this sport, Ricky Rudd was always that guy, you know? For Jeff to be in it as long as he has, and to stay safe as long as he has, it says a lot about the cars he is driving, the people that are working on those cars, the safety innovations in this sport; that's the reason that you can do those things and he can continue to do it at the age he’s doing it. Stay sharp and on top of his game like he has." RELATED: Rudd and other drivers who have raced injured Six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson , Gordon's teammate at Hendrick Motorsports , couldn't resist a playful dig when asked about Gordon's record-equaling accomplishment. "He's old," Johnson said with a laugh. "I can't believe it. It's amazing how fast the time goes. I'm sure Jeff would say the same." When Johnson moved into Cup fulltime in '02, Gordon was coming off his fourth championship and was already a winner of 58 races. "It's crazy to think that in 270-some races (before '02) … I can't believe what he had accomplished in that window of time," Johnson said. "He's had an amazing career and I hate to see him go. I wish he was still going to be around but I know he's fired up about for what's next in life. He's been doing it a long time. "The success he's had, and especially right off the bat, is really impressive." Rudd's streak began Jan. 1, 1981 at Riverside (Calif.) Raceway with a DiGard team owned by Bill Gardner. It didn't end until Sept. 20, 2005 at Homestead-Miami Speedway while paired with Wood Brothers Racing . Rudd , Gordon and Bobby Labonte (704) are the only drivers with more than 700 consecutive starts. Matt Kenseth , with 538 consecutive starts, is next in line among those drivers still competing fulltime in the series. "I look at Ricky Rudd , what he went through to make it is pretty extraordinary so I can't quite compare to that, but I've been in this sport a long time," Gordon said. "I've been in every single race and that is definitely a stat that I will look back on and be very proud of when we accomplish that at New Hampshire." There were times, he said, when the possibility of missing a race existed, but they were few and far between, due to health concerns rather than performance-based issues. One that quickly comes to mind, he said, was a blown right-front tire at Texas Motor Speedway in 1999 that sent Gordon's Chevrolet hard into the outside wall and left the driver with a rib injury. "No SAFER barrier, no HANS device, seats were not what they are today, seat belts were not what they are today," Gordon said. "That could have been a very serious injury. It ended up being bruised ribs and I was hurting but we had a weekend off so I was able to recover enough to go to Bristol the next race." "Of course the back issue that I had last year at Charlotte -- I wasn't prepared for that. When I got back in the car on Saturday and it hurt as bad as it did, I was scared that I might not make it into that race … the next day. "Luckily I had some great doctors that got me through it, we did the injections and I was able to make it through that race." Week after week, year after year, Gordon has continued to show up, suit up and race as hard as he did that first Sunday at Atlanta more than two decades ago. "What are mine?" Bowyer asked of his own number of consecutive starts. Told 351, Bowyer seemed stunned. "Three fifty one to 787? Whoa! I'll be 60 (by then)," he said. "No, it really is a hell of an accomplishment; what a career and he’s done a lot for our sport and everybody involved in it. It really is crazy to think next year there will not be a Jeff Gordon (on the track)." No other full-time driver competing today was also in the field that day in Atlanta. So Bowyer not only spoke for himself but for the other 41 drivers in today's race. "He's been in every single ( Sprint Cup ) race that I've ever been a part of."
From The Vault: Gordon edges Rudd in Michigan
Relive Jeff Gordon’s 55th career victory that came in 2001 at Michigan International Speedway. Gordon would hold off a hard-charging Ricky Rudd to earn Hendrick Motorsports its 100th win in NASCAR’s top series.
NASCAR Hall of Fame: Ricky Rudd
See how one of the toughest men of iron in NASCAR earned his right to be considered for the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Nominee for the NASCAR Hall of Fame
Chip Ganassi always up for next racing challenge
SEBRING, Fla. -- Fans practically contorted themselves to get the perfect "selfies" and random close-ups of Chip Ganassi's two Ford GT cars on the grid awaiting Saturday's green flag for the 64th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Dressed in their finest Ford, Chevrolet Corvette and even Ferrari and Porsche T-shirts and hats, the crowd around Ganassi's two red-white-and-blue entries was easily the largest on the starting grid. The curious and adoring fans examined the rear wing, peered into the car's windows and asked crewman to pose for photos. And there were audible bursts of "ohhh and ahhh" in various inflections and languages. Unlike most race events, the fancy sports cars parked in the infield lots didn't belong to the drivers or team executives, but instead to the highly devoted sports car fans who attend the famous Twelve Hours of Sebring dressed in Mark Donohue shirts with prototype car silhouettes on their cap. NASCAR Hall of Famers Bill Elliott and Terry Labonte have competed at Sebring as have Ricky Rudd and Michael Waltrip . While no former NASCAR drivers were entered this weekend, Sprint Cup team owners Ganassi and Rob Kauffman, who competed here with Michael Waltrip in 2012, were on hand to see their Fords compete in what is considered one of the world's greatest races. Ganassi's team won this race in a prototype class car in 2014. "The big thing is to get some distance in them," Ford driver Joey Hand told the crowd Saturday. "But the cars look fast and they are fast." Going the distance is the big challenge. The brand new Ford GT EcoBoosts had a few hiccups in their Rolex 24 debut, but in all fairness, had only turned laps a couple weeks before the race during a massive test session. It was a tricky debut at Daytona for the new cars, but the team is quite confident it has learned from the growing pains and repaired the glitches. They led laps and kept pace at Daytona and Saturday was all about increasing the performance further. "The good thing about it all, and the thing we are pleased about, is the car is showing some pace, it is showing some opportunity, and overall we are happy that we have a fast car and we need to work on reliability,’" Ford Motor Company's executive vice president, Product Development, and chief technical officer, Raj Nair said after Daytona. "That's a lot better than having a slow car that's reliable, but you don't know how to get speed out of it. Overall, this is racing and this is what can happen in racing. If we don't win every race, we are disappointed, but at the same time we know how to fix our issues and we'll be better the next time we come out." The whole program is a major undertaking for Ganassi, who has won Daytona 500 , Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 400, Rolex 24 and 12 Hours of Sebring trophies already. But the quest is as sentimental as it is ambitious. A win at the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans is the next great trophy Ganassi desires -- and a victory there would certainly add to what is absolutely already one of the greatest resumes in racing history. "I think it’s obviously something that's been on our radar screen for a couple years," Ganassi said standing alongside his car Saturday, enjoying the large and curious crowd. "It's going to be a challenge and we're hopeful we can put Ford forward the way they want to be represented. We look forward to it. "The greatest events attract the greatest teams and the greatest challenges. That's why we look forward to it. "And it's nice to go over there with an American company. That's pretty cool."
NASCAR Hall of Fame Fan Vote opens today
RELATED: Click here to cast your ballot Once again, NASCAR fans have an opportunity to participate in the 2017 Hall of Fame induction process by taking part in this year's fan vote. Beginning April 5, users can cast their votes online -- multiple times per day, if you like. The top five vote-getting nominees will be turned into an actual Hall of Fame ballot -- there are 54 total ballots, including the fan ballot. Voting closes May 23 and the 2017 class will be voted on and announced at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on May 25. There are 20 nominees for this year's class, including five new names: team owner Jack Roush, four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday Jr ., driver Ricky Rudd , engine builder Waddell Wilson and broadcaster Ken Squier. The nominees from the 2016 class who were not chosen last year rolled over to this year's selection. All of the nominees were selected by a committee comprised of NASCAR/Hall of Fame representatives, track owners and media. RELATED: See the 20 nominees for the 2017 Hall of Fame
Ricky Stenhouse Jr's Crew Chief Suspended
NASCAR.com's Jonathan Merryman brings you Up To Speed on the suspension of Nick Sandler, Crew Chief for Ricky Stenhouse Jr., after the race at Richmond International Raceway.
Five new names on list of 2017 Hall of Fame nominees
RELATED: NASCAR reveals nominees for 2017 Hall of Fame class " MORE: See the 2017 Hall of Fame nominees Longtime NASCAR team owner Jack Roush and four-time Camping World Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday highlight five new nominees to be considered for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2017. Roush and Hornaday join former premier series driver Ricky Rudd , winning engine builder Waddell Wilson and television broadcaster/journalist Ken Squier as first-time nominees. The NASCAR Hall of Fame Nominating Committee met last week in Daytona Beach, Florida, to determine this year's list of nominees. All 15 of those on the 2016 list that were not chosen for induction return on the 2017 ballot. Roush, 73, has been a car owner in NASCAR's premier series since 1988, and the Roush Fenway Racing organization has earned 135 Sprint Cup victories as well as two series championships. Four RFR drivers have won five XFINITY Series titles while the organization also sports one CWTS crown. Hornaday, 57, won Truck Series titles in 1996, '98, 2007 and '09. When he stepped aside at the end of the 2014 season, his 51 career victories were tops for the series, a mark that still stands. Rudd earned 23 premier series wins in a career that spanned three decades. One of the top road racers of his generation, Rudd scored NASCAR wins for some of the sport's top team owners, including Richard Childress, Bud Moore and Rick Hendrick. Winning the 1997 Brickyard 400 was notable as Rudd managed the feat as an owner/driver. Wilson's engines took drivers to more than 100 premier series victories, while as a crew chief, he won 19 times, including three times in the Daytona 500 . Squier began his broadcasting career at age 12 (his father owned and operated a television station) and was part of the first crew to call the Daytona 500 live (in 1979). The Squier-Hall Award, created in 2012, honors the contributions of media to the success of the sport and is named in honor of Squier and longtime Motor Racing Network broadcaster Barney Hall. The Nominating Committee also determined the list of five candidates for the Landmark Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to NASCAR. New to the 2017 list is Janet Guthrie, the first woman to qualify for and compete in the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500 . She joins Martinsville (Va.) Speedway track founder H. Clay Earles, former car owner Raymond Parks, Ralph Seagraves of former series sponsor RJ Reynolds and its Sports Marketing Enterprises marketing arm, and Squier. The 15 returning nominees among those to be considered for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame for 2017: Buddy Baker -- Nineteen career premier series wins. Red Byron -- NASCAR's first strictly stock champion. Richard Childress -- Currently boasts 105 premiers series wins and six championships as a car owner. Ray Evernham -- Won three premier series titles as crew chief for Jeff Gordon ; as an owner, worked with Dodge when the manufacturer re-entered NASCAR. Ray Fox -- Car owner, engine builder and crew chief; won 14 times as an owner. Rick Hendrick -- Team owner whose Hendrick Motorsports organization has won 11 premier series titles and 240 races. Harry Hyde -- For two decades (1960s though '80s), Hyde was one of the most successful crew chiefs in the garage; helped guide Bobby Isaac to the 1970 premier series title. Alan Kulwicki -- Won premier series title in 1992 as an owner/driver. Mark Martin -- Took runner-up honors in championship battle five times; ended career with 40 premier series wins, 49 in XFINITY Series and seven in Trucks. Herschel McGriff -- A four-time winner based on the West Coast, McGriff enjoyed one of the longest NASCAR driving careers in NASCAR; former Winston West Series champion. Raymond Parks -- First team owner to win strictly stock championship (with driver Red Byron). Benny Parsons -- Former premier series champion who enjoyed a successful second career in the broadcast booth. Larry Phillips -- Legendary short track ace from the Midwest; won five NASCAR national Weekly Series titles and seven regional championships. Mike Stefanik -- Seven-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion. Robert Yates -- Engine builder and championship winning team owner (57 wins). Voting Panel and Nominating Committee members will meet May 25 to determine the 2017 Hall of Fame class.
NASCAR reveals nominees for 2017 Hall of Fame class
RELATED: Five more names on list of 2017 Hall of Fame nominees " MORE: See the 2017 Hall of Fame nominees DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 24, 2016) -- Legendary engine builders, crew chiefs, owners, drivers and the most recognizable voice in motorsports. The talents, eras and levels may differ, but all share a common thread. They shaped NASCAR, and on Wednesday, they were recognized as nominees for the highest honor the sport bestows -- enshrinement into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. NASCAR today announced the 20 nominees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame's Class of 2017, as well as the five nominees for the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. Included among the list are five first-time nominees, all legends who made excellence a habit through their various contributions to the sport. Among them are record-holding four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday Jr .; the man with the most car owner wins in NASCAR national series history with 322, Jack Roush; former all-time consecutive starts leader Ricky Rudd ; legendary motorsports broadcasting pioneer Ken Squier; and three-time premier series champion engine builder and three-time Daytona 500 -winning crew chief Waddell Wilson. For a full list of nominees, please see below. The nominees were selected by a nominating committee consisting of representatives from NASCAR and the NASCAR Hall of Fame, track owners from both major facilities and historic short tracks, and the media. The committee's votes were tabulated by accounting firm Ernst & Young. From the list of 20 NASCAR Hall of Fame nominees, five inductees will be elected by the NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel, which includes a nationwide fan vote on NASCAR.com. Voting Day for the 2017 class will be Wednesday, May 25. Added to this year's list of Landmark Award nominees is Janet Guthrie -- the first female driver to compete in a NASCAR premier series superspeedway race. The four returning nominees for the Landmark Award are H. Clay Earles, Raymond Parks, Ralph Seagraves and Squier (more on each below). Potential Landmark Award recipients include competitors or those working in the sport as a member of a racing organization, track facility, race team, sponsor, media partner or being a general ambassador for the sport through a professional or non-professional role. Award winners remain eligible for NHOF enshrinement. Following are the 20 nominees for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, listed alphabetically: Buddy Baker , won 19 times in NASCAR's premier (now Sprint Cup ) series, including the Daytona 500 and Southern 500. Red Byron , first NASCAR premier series champion, in 1949. Richard Childress , 11-time car owner champion in NASCAR's three national series. Ray Evernham , three-time NASCAR premier series championship crew chief. Ray Fox , legendary engine builder, crew chief and car owner. Rick Hendrick , 14-time car owner champion in NASCAR's three national series. Ron Hornaday , four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion. Harry Hyde , 1970 NASCAR premier series championship crew chief. Alan Kulwicki , 1992 NASCAR premier series champion. Mark Martin , 96-time race winner in NASCAR national series competition. Hershel McGriff , 1986 NASCAR west series champion. Raymond Parks , NASCAR's first champion car owner. Benny Parsons , 1973 NASCAR premier series champion. Larry Phillips , only five-time NASCAR weekly series national champion. Jack Roush , five-time car owner champion in NASCAR’s three national series. Ricky Rudd , won 23 times in NASCAR's premier series, including the 1997 Brickyard 400. Ken Squier , legendary radio and television broadcaster; inaugural winner/namesake of Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. Mike Stefanik , winner of record-tying nine NASCAR championships. Waddell Wilson , won three NASCAR premier series championships as an engine builder. Robert Yates , won NASCAR premier series championship as both an engine builder and owner. The five nominees for the Landmark Award, listed alphabetically, are: H. Clay Earles , founder of Martinsville Speedway . Janet Guthrie , the first female to compete in a NASCAR premier series superspeedway race. Raymond Parks , NASCAR's first champion car owner. Ralph Seagraves, formed groundbreaking Winston-NASCAR partnership as executive with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Ken Squier , legendary radio and television broadcaster; inaugural winner/namesake of Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. NASCAR Hall of Fame Nomination Eligibility -- Drivers who have competed in NASCAR for at least 10 years and been retired for two years are eligible for nomination to the NHOF. Previously, eligible drivers must have been retired for three years. -- In addition, drivers who have competed for a minimum of 10 years and reached their 55th birthday on or before Dec. 31 of the year prior to the nominating year are immediately eligible for the NHOF. -- Any driver who has competed for 30 or more years in NASCAR competition by Dec. 31 of the year prior to the nominating year is automatically eligible, regardless of age. -- Drivers may continue to compete after reaching any of the aforementioned milestones without compromising eligibility for nomination or induction. -- For non-drivers, individuals must have worked at least 10 years in the NASCAR industry. -- Individuals may also be considered who made significant achievements in the sport, but left the sport early due to a variety of circumstances. The 22-person Nominating Committee: NOMINATION COMMITTEE NASCAR Hall of Fame: Executive Director Winston Kelley; Historian Buz McKim. NASCAR Officials: Chairman / CEO Brian France; Vice Chairman Jim France; Vice Chairman of NASCAR Mike Helton; Chief Operating Officer Brent Dewar; Executive Vice President / Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell; Executive Vice President / Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps; Senior Vice President, Competition Scott Miller; Senior Vice President, Marketing & Driver Services Jill Gregory. Track Owners/Operators: International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa France Kennedy; Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell; Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage; Atlanta Motor Speedway President Ed Clark; former Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Tony George; Dover Motorsports CEO Denis McGlynn; Pocono Raceway board of directors member Looie McNally; Bowman Gray Stadium operator Dale Pinilis; Holland Motorsports Complex operator Ron Bennett; Rockford Speedway operator Jody Deery; West Coast representative Ken Clapp. Media: Mike Joy, FOX.
We're not billionaires, but we're all winners after Chris Long interview
Inside Groove: Racing with an attitude This just in, there was a Powerball lottery drawing on Wednesday night and it had people talking. Including that "hopeful Powerball player" in the photo above -- otherwise known as St. Louis Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Chris Long. Long was interviewed on NBC29 local news ( watch the full interview over at Deadspin, it's well worth your time ) at a Charlottesville, Virginia convenience store as he purchased last-minute tickets for the $1.6 billion prize, sporting shades, a mustache, camo and ... a Levi Garrett Racing NASCAR trucker hat? Some dreams come true finally made the local news tonight. pic.twitter.com/LmZNouUdoL — Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) January 14, 2016 Levi Garrett Racing, as maybe three of you will remember, was one of Hendrick Motorsports ' earliest sponsors, signing on to back Geoff Bodine's efforts from 1985-89 and then in 1990 with Ricky Rudd . Bodine won the 1986 Daytona 500 , sporting the LGR yellow and white paint scheme. Sadly, it doesn't appear that Long was one of the three reported winners, so he'll have to dip from his paltry NFL salary if he wants to keep perusing eBay for NASCAR gems like his hat. However, if he wants to dig up some deals, we know who to send him to. MORE: Dale Jr. discusses his eBay addiction WHAT'S HOT: Blaney, Bubba next death metal duo? " Lane Kiffin, meet Ryan Newman