Edwards, Keselowski, Kahne and others congrat Regan Smith and comment on their race in Darlington.
Four-time champion will start 18th in Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX) RELATED: Starting lineup in Charlotte With 92 NASCAR Sprint Cup victories and four championships, Jeff Gordon has said that NASCAR was "meant to be" for him. But Sunday afternoon, the former open-wheel prodigy also got to drive the path not taken, and lead the Indianapolis 500 field to the green flag as the official pace car driver. After a tutoring session from IndyCar great Johnny Rutherford, Gordon got the Chevy Corvette Z06 up to speed, took three laps in front of the field and then pulled off to watch the race's opening laps unfold before climbing on an airplane to fly back to Charlotte where he will start 18th in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway this evening (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM) -- NASCAR's nightcap to racing's famed Memorial Day weekend slate. The NASCAR champion was introduced to the crowd at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway just prior to the driver lineup Sunday morning. Carrying his son Leo and walking alongside his daughter Ella and wife Ingrid, Gordon stopped briefly to shake hands and speak with the legendary Mario Andretti before waving to the crowd which offered the NASCAR great a standing and rousing ovation. Moments later, Indy 500 starter and fellow California native Townsend Bell emerged wearing Jeff's neon-colored 24 on his driver's suit. His car will also carry that number as a tribute to Gordon. It was yet another recognition of Gordon's great contributions to racing and his special place in Indiana racing lore. Under green at #Indy500 , but @townsendbell gave @JeffGordonWeb a prerace tour of the No. 24 @TeamChevy . #IMSAatINDY pic.twitter.com/INrl7E0w0B — TUDOR Championship (@UnitedSportsCar) May 24, 2015 Calling it an honor and speaking often about the "energy" of Indy 500 race day, Gordon described Sunday's experience as "an opportunity of a lifetime." "To come down that front straightaway the first time and hear that crowd cheering for the cars, the drivers, and this amazing event …to be able to hear that from inside the pace car with the windows down is just amazing," Gordon said after getting out of the car. "Not to mention that the pace car has to get after it pretty good out here because that last lap is 100 mph and through the corners, maintaining that is something. So that was definitely cool. A huge thrill and a huge honor. "This whole year has just been incredible from the fan interaction, racetracks, this phone call (from stepfather John Bickford that Chevrolet offered Gordon the opportunity to drive the pace car), this moment. This is a very, very special year. Very cool experience being the pace car driver for #Indy500 . Thanks @TeamChevy & @IMS pic.twitter.com/PnQ5WvuMDx — Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) May 24, 2015 "I mean, there's no doubt in my mind that one thing that maybe I feel like I've accomplished more than I ever expected or hoped to in racing, but the one thing that did kind of did allude me and we pursued -- I say 'we', my dad, my mom and myself -- when we were trying to go to the next level, was getting a chance to race here in the Indianapolis 500 . "I've said this many times, I still believe it. Winning the inaugural Brickyard 400, to me, fulfilled that dream. Now I've had a chance to win it four more times. This is a special place for me. I love getting a chance to race here." Gordon's five Brickyard 400 wins is the most for a driver at the speedway, tying him with the legendary Michael Schumacher, who has five Formula One grand prix victories. He'll have a chance to hold the record on his own in this July's running of the Brickyard 400 (July 26, 3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM). But for those hoping that the 43-year old Gordon may one day make a start in the Indianapolis 500 , he dashed those thoughts Sunday morning telling reporters that would not be happening. "I'll be in the FOX booth next year," Gordon said. "I'm so glad that deal worked out because I wouldn't have a better excuse for you." And further, Gordon revealed that although he had previously left open the door to compete in random NASCAR races that now seems less and less likely. "The way I set that up is because I've known too many drivers that I respect and have raced with that, you know, said, 'OK, I'm retiring, stepping away, then they come back,'' Gordon said. "I'm not quite ready, want to run a few more races. "That's why I didn't say this is my final year of ever competing at a single event. But it really, truly is. It really is. As I get further into the year, as things come together, I don't see myself doing any races. If I do a race, maybe a Martinsville or a short track." In the meantime, Gordon was intent to live in the moment Sunday. "To me, if every time I could attend something like the Indianapolis 500 and then go to my own race -- it would definitely be motivating," Gordon said. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Sprint Cup stars take to social media to offer congratulations Juan Pablo Montoya 's second career Indianapolis 500 win elicited plenty of social media reaction from his former competitors and friends in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Tony Stewart and Joey Logano were among those to offer their congratulations. The victory came as he drove for Roger Penske, giving Penske wins in two of racing's marquee events this season: The Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 . Penske joins Chip Ganassi as the only other team owner to win both events in the same year. Fifteen years ago, Montoya won his first Indianapolis 500 driving for Ganassi. Since then, Montoya spent time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, winning two races and competing full-time in the series from 2007 to 2013. He made two Sprint Cup starts last season for Penske. Check out the sampling of reaction below. During his time in @NASCAR , @jpmontoya was always really cool to me. I looked up to him as a true wheelman. So good to see him win today. — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) May 24, 2015 Congratulations to @jpmontoya that was a hell of a drive. — Mark Martin (@markmartin) May 24, 2015 Ole @jpmontoya was on it there at the end definitely was wheeling that thing more than any of them #Indianapolis500 — Ricky Stenhouse Jr . (@StenhouseJr) May 24, 2015 Big congrats to @jpmontoya on the #Indy500 win!!!! — Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) May 24, 2015 Hell yeah @jpmontoya . Awesome. Indy 500 & Daytona 500 to RP. That was awesome. Congrats @12WillPower in the runner up too. — Joey Logano (@joeylogano) May 24, 2015 Congrats @jpmontoya , massive effort!!! #Indianapolis500 — Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) May 24, 2015 HELL YEAH! Great job my friend. Proud of my buddy Juan Pablo Montoya today at the #Indy500 — Tony Stewart (@TonyStewart) May 24, 2015
'True Southern iconic brands' continue partnership that began in 2012
Pair start building relationship, talk upcoming races after crew chief swap DARLINGTON, S.C. – Crew chief Billy Scott and driver Clint Bowyer wasted no time in starting to build their relationship as teammates, hitting Darlington Raceway for testing the same day Michael Waltrip Racing officials announced a crew chief swap for its’ two-team NASCAR Sprint Cup Series operation. Bowyer’s No. 15 team was one of four taking part in Tuesday’s Goodyear tire test at the historic 1.366-mile venue and was one of 12 participating in Wednesday’s open team test. Scott, previously the crew chief for the organization’s No. 55 Toyota, is now overseeing the Bowyer entry; Brian Pattie, who had served as Bowyer’s crew chief, is now with the No. 55 group and driver. The pit crews for the two teams remain unchanged, although Scott said there were some individuals in other positions that made the switch as well. Wednesday’s open team test provided teams the opportunity to prepare for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 , scheduled for Sept. 6. “There are different aspects that have been kind of building up to it,” Scott said of the crew chief change. “The timing, even though it’s been short notice, coming to the test here with cars that were prepared differently (and) going to Michigan before the off week is short planning, but I think the timing is good that we do have the test here for the 15 and next week for the 55 (at Richmond) to give everybody a chance to work together. “The off week (which follows this weekend’s race at Michigan International Speedway ) will be a good chance to review that and make some tweaks.” Bowyer will be the fifth driver with whom Scott has worked this season as team co-owner Michael Waltrip , Brian Vickers , Brett Moffitt and David Ragan have spent time behind the wheel of the No. 55 entry. Vickers, the team’s primary driver, was sidelined after just two starts due to a recurrence of blood clots while Ragan has been in the car for the five Sprint Cup Series events. Bowyer and Pattie have worked side-by-side since 2012 at MWR, winning three times and qualifying for NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup in 2012-13. Currently 17 th in the points standings, Bowyer’s managed just three top 10s this season and has led only two laps. “Hopefully having that experience (with different drivers), learning somebody new and adapting on the fly will help us,” said Scott, who added that building a relationship with Bowyer will be no different than building one with any of his former drivers. “That’s always evolving even for guys that have been together for years; you can always improve on that,” he said. “But … we’ve been in meetings together for three-and-a-half years already and he’s a pretty easy-going guy so hopefully we should pick up pretty quick.” It won’t be necessarily a change in the direction of the team, but just a different approach perhaps. “The communication at … Michael Waltrip Racing has always been very fluent among all the teams whether it’s been two or three,” said Scott. “Everyone’s worked on the same goals … I think maybe just having a different perspective and just some small details might be enough to just switch it up, get that little spark.” Bowyer, taking a lunch time break from testing, said MWR has “to make our cars better … to give (Billy) a chance. “Communication can always be better and that’s what we’re working on with this change,” he said. “Something’s needed. It’s not like he is coming in, having to learn everything. We’re only a two-car team so they worked pretty tight anyway. My engineer, Dax (Gerringer) is a guy that I’ve work with really closely with since I’ve been at MWR. I’m just looking forward to gaining a new asset, a new voice. We’ve certainly got a lot of work to do.” Other drivers taking part in Wednesday’s test: Aric Almirola ( Richard Petty Motorsports ), Greg Biffle ( Roush Fenway Racing ), Kurt Busch ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), Kyle Busch ( Joe Gibbs Racing ), Jimmie Johnson ( Hendrick Motorsports ), Joey Logano ( Team Penske ), Jamie McMurray ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates), Ryan Newman ( Richard Childress Racing ), Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ), Ryan Blaney ( Wood Brothers Racing ) and Jeb Burton ( BK Racing ). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
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Jeff Gordon and NASCAR fans have always had an interesting relationship. Take a look at how that relationship has changed within the sport's southern fan base.
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