Jeff Gordon preparing for last race at his best track – Martinsville

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If you’ve done something successfully nine times, you can do it again, right?

That’s the question that will be asked of Jeff Gordon this weekend.

The four-time Sprint Cup champion will be making what likely will be his final start on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.

The semi-retired Gordon makes his eighth and last replacement start for sidelined Dale Earnhardt Jr. and it comes at the track where he experienced the most success in his 23 full-time seasons of competition.

In 46 starts at the shortest and oldest track in NASCAR, Gordon went home with the checkered flag nine times. That’s 10.3 percent of his 93 Sprint Cup wins, the last of which came at Martinsville last October.

“You kind of like to leave a place with a win and I definitely don’t want to mess that up,” Gordon told hendrickmotorsports.com. “But it’s also a track that I like and feel confident at.”

Gordon began building his confidence at Martinsville when he won his first of nine poles at the track for the fall 1995 race. A year later, Gordon led 133 laps on the way to his first win there in the Hanes 500. That first win was so long ago, Martinsville still had two pit lanes at the time.

From 1993-2015, Gordon earned 29 top fives, 37 top 10s and an average finish of 6.8. He’s also led 3,779 laps at the short track, which is more than Joey Logano (3, 524), Jamie McMurray (1,867) and Clint Bowyer (2,338) have led in their entire Cup careers.

If he earns a top 10 on Sunday in the Goody’s Fast Relief 500, he will break a tie with Richard Petty for the most at Martinsville.

But can the 93-time Cup winner make it 94 in his last time in a Sprint Cup cockpit, almost a year after his original “last” race?

“I don’t see why we couldn’t go there and contend for a win,” Gordon said. “We won there last year and I don’t think a lot has changed. The question is, ‘Were we the best car there?’ To me, I think we’d have to be a little bit better than we were last year to be in that position.”

Gordon was put in a position to win when Matt Kenseth intentionally wrecked race-leader Joey Logano on Lap 455. Logano, who has earned the pole in the last three Martinsville races, had led 207 laps until he was forced into the wall in Turn 1.

Gordon assumed the lead from AJ Allmendinger with 22 laps remaining and with darkness settling over the area, claimed the win.

Jimmie Johnson to start in the rear after gear change

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
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INDIANAPOLIS – Jimmie Johnson‘s bid for a record-tying fifth Brickyard 400 will have to begin at the back of the 40-car field.

Johnson qualified fourth Saturday but stated on Twitter that he’ll have to go to the rear of the field because they had to change the rear gear.

Although track position is pivotal at Indianapolis Motor Speedway because passing is difficult, optimists can view Johnson’s woes as a good sign. He has scored two of his three wins this season – Texas and Dover – after starting in the rear.

Also starting at the rear today is Cole Whitt (rear gear change) and Joey Gase (engine change). Whitt qualified 34th. Gase qualified 38th.

Today’s race is on NBC. Coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET with Countdown to Green.

 

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Today’s Cup race at Indianapolis: Start time, weather, TV/radio info

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The NASCAR Cup Series takes part in the 24th annual Brickyard 400 today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It marks one year since Kyle Busch earned his last Cup win, when he claimed his second Brickyard 400 in a row. Busch starts from the pole for the second year in a row.

Here’s all the important info you need ahead of the race, which airs on NBC.

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 2:32 p.m. Green flag is set for 2:44 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 160 laps (400 miles) around the 2.5-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 50. Stage 2 ends on Lap 100.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: The Cup garage opens at 9 a.m. The driver/crew chief meeting is at 12:30 p.m. Driver introductions are at 1:55 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Carly Pearce will perform the Anthem at 2:26 p.m.

TV/RADIO: NBC will broadcast the race. Coverage begins at 2 p.m. with Countdown to Green. Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network will broadcast on radio and the Performance Racing Network at 1:30 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the IMSRN/PRN broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts 89 degrees at race time with a 15 percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST YEAR: Kyle Busch started from the pole and led 149 of the race’s 170 total laps. It was his second win in a row in the race. Matt Kenseth finished second, Jimmie Johnson finished third.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the full starting lineup.

Get a humorous look at life in the pits in, what else, ‘The Pits’ on NBC livestream

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Life in the pits can sometimes, well … really be the pits.

But it can also be a hilarious look at life in NASCAR, as well.

That’s the premise behind “The Pits,” a three-part “mockumentary-style series” that spoofs the life of the fictitious SONIC pit crew in NASCAR.

“The Pits” debuts Sunday on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. After each 2-3 minute episode airs, replays will be available on NBCSports.com and also the NASCAR on NBC Facebook page.

The first episode airs during this Sunday’s live stream of the Brickyard 400, which will be televised on NBC.

Episode 1 follows pit pro Rita, who falls for tire specialist Max, but Max’s only affection is for SONIC Pretzel Dogs.

The other two episodes of The Pits will livestream Saturday night, August 19, during the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway, and during the Sunday, October 15 race at Talladega Superspeedway.

“The Pits” is produced for NBC Sports Group and SONIC Drive-In by The Kicker, with shareable content running across NBC Sports Digital assets.

Starting lineup for 24th annual Brickyard 400

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Kyle Busch will lead the Brickyard 400 to the green flag Sunday for the second year in a row.

He earned his fourth pole of the year and is seeking his first Cup win since the 2016 Brickyard 400.

Following Busch in the starting lineup is Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin.

Hamlin is the only driver in the top five who hasn’t won at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Click here for the full starting lineup.