Jeff Gordon takes blame for disappointing finish at Talladega: ‘You want to seize those opportunities’

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TALLADEGA, Ala. – For the second time in five races, Jeff Gordon was left wrestling with the agony of leaving a Sprint Cup track empty-handed despite having a car capable of winning.

Even more frustrating was that the blame for Sunday’s squandered chance at Talladega Superspeedway squarely fell on his shoulders.

“You want to seize those opportunities,” said Gordon, who finished 31st in the Geico 500 despite the No. 24 Chevrolet leading 47 of 188 laps after starting on the pole position. “This was an opportunity for us. We had an awesome race car. I definitely feel like we had the best race car.

“Junior was good, Jimmie was good, but I felt like we were amazing. That’s frustrating. I think the most frustrating thing is making a mistake. At Martinsville, I made a mistake. Here I made a mistake. We’ve got to eliminate those mistakes when we have race cars like this, because we have an awesome race team.”

Just as in the March 29 race at Martinsville Speedway, the critical error was a speeding penalty on the final stop.

Gordon was entering the pits just before the caution flew for an engine failure in the Chevy of Austin Dillon.

As he stabbed the brakes entering the pits, he knew something immediately was wrong.

“The car wasn’t slowing down,” he said. “I don’t know if I got on the splitter, but it would not slow down. I knew I was speeding.”

NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell tweeted that Gordon was caught speeding in the first two sections, roughly 20 mph over in the first sector

“I’m not happy with myself, really,” Gordon said. “I made that mistake coming to pit road. That was a make or break moment in the race. It could have put us in the lead. Instead, we were the tail end of longest line.”

After restarting in 31st with 26 laps remaining, the four-time series champion made up some ground but still was outside the top 10 when he was caught in a last-lap crash.

Though his car had blazing speed throughout the weekend (he won the pole with a speed that left rivals slackjawed), there wasn’t an opportunity to advance when the field formed mostly into a single-file line for the final 26 laps.

“If those guys decide to go single file like that, you’re not going anywhere,” Gordon said. “I was in the middle on that final restart, making some ground up, and all of a sudden they all went outside, and that point, it was over. You’re just sitting there waiting for the white flag to come up.”

It was the Hendrick Motorsports driver’s third finish outside the top 30 in 10 races but first since the March 1 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He also started on the pole at the Daytona 500, leading 87 laps and placing 33rd.

NASCAR America: Pit crew members share their hidden talents

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What does a sky diver and Olympic-caliber swimmer have in common?

They make their living on NASCAR’s pit road, that’s what.

Check out two of this week’s pit crew all-star nominees, as seen on Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America.

NASCAR America: Xfinity drivers react to restrictor plates at Indy (video)

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On Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America, several of the stars of the NASCAR Xfinity Series tried to explain in three words what to expect with the use of restrictor plates in this Saturday’s Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

See what they said and what they’re thinking about Saturday’s race in the video above.

NASCAR America: Bubba Wallace Jr.’s search for a ride continues (video)

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Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr.’s search for a new ride continues.

Wallace joined NASCAR America in-studio on Thursday and talked about his recent fill-in role at Richard Petty Motorsports during Aric Almirola‘s crash recovery, as well as his hope that a new ride will come around soon.

Wallace also weighed in on Alex Bowman being selected Thursday to replace the retiring Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Chevrolet and what it means for the young generation of drivers.

Find out what Bubba had to say in the video above.

 

 

NASCAR America: What happens to Brad Keselowski now that 88 ride has been filled? (video)

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Amid all the news about Alex Bowman replacing Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Team Hendrick Chevrolet next season, one thing was kind of overlooked.

Rumors had floated throughout the sport the last several weeks about Brad Keselowski being a possible candidate to replace Earnhardt, as well.

Those rumors were only bolstered more by the fact Keselowski has still not signed a contract extension with Team Penske. His current deal runs out at the end of the current Cup season.

NASCAR Talk’s Nate Ryan appeared on Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America and talked about the various ramifications of the Bowman deal. But Ryan also suggested that with Bowman now in place, will that potentially hasten Keselowski’s re-signing with Team Penske perhaps sooner than later now that the 88 ride is off the table?

“Whether Brad Keselowski was seriously weighing a move to the 88 or whether he was using it as leverage to get a better deal from Team Penske and Ford, this just makes it all the more likely that he will re-sign with Team Penske and stay in the No. 2 Ford next year,” Ryan said.

“It’s very likely that we will hear soon that Brad Keselowski is re-signing with Team Penske. That deal is very close.”

Ryan also discussed whether another driver whose name was mentioned as a potential replacement for Earnhardt, young William Byron, may also score a promotion to the Cup Series with Team Hendrick.

“I think Cup could still be in the cards for next year,” Ryan said of Byron. “Kasey Kahne is under contract in the No. 5 for Hendrick Motorsports for 2018, but he is having a very disappointing season.

“If Hendrick elected to make a change on that ride, it could depend on sponsorship. That ride doesn’t have much sponsorship announced yet for 2018 and William Byron could certainly be an option there.

“He brings some sponsorship from Liberty University, and he also has been sponsored in a few races with Axalta and they really like what he’s done. If he goes to Cup, they really want to be on his car.”