MARTINSVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 28:  Jeff Gordon, driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, stands on the grid prior to qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 28, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
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Will Martinsville mark the last time in NASCAR for Jeff Gordon? ‘Never say never’

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Autographing a bank of bulbs that soon will illuminate the oldest track in NASCAR’s premier series made Jeff Gordon chuckle Friday.

“I might have to come back for lights at Martinsville,” he said with a sly smile.

The four-time series champion already has returned more times than he or anyone else would have believed after his ‘retirement” last season.

Summoned to duty behind the wheel of the No. 88 Chevrolet while Dale Earnhardt Jr. recovers from the effects of a concussion, Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway will mark the last of eight starts this year for Gordon as an interim driver.

But will his 805th Sprint Cup start also be the last of his career?

“Your guess is as good as mine,” said Gordon, who qualified 10th Friday. “I can promise you I had no intentions of this happening, but here I am.

“Never say never is all I know what to say. I really don’t think that I will be getting back in the Cup car again, but go ask (team owner) Rick Hendrick. That really has more to do with him than anything else. I hope in the future that the drivers don’t have a situation like what we had with Junior where they need somebody to fill in for them. This little bit of experience has been kind of good for me, good for the organization and we have had a little bit of fun with it as well. If I had to do it, then certainly I would, but I don’t anticipate it.”

Before retiring, Gordon had targeted Martinsville, where he has a series-best nine wins, as a potentially optimum place for a one-off return. But he was slightly wary after scoring his most recent win here last Nov. 1 (which qualified him for the championship round in his 23rd and final season).

“I love this track,” the 45-year-old said. “Obviously, I have amazing memories from this race last year. I guess there was a part of me that wasn’t sure if I wanted to come back and take away from that, but at the same time I’ve always said if there is one track that I feel like I could get back in the car and feel comfortable and competitive it’s this track. For that I’m happy that I’m here.”

He made his 2016 return to the cockpit of a Hendrick Motorsports car at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he scored the first of a record five wins in the 1994 inaugural race.

“Of course there wasn’t much hesitation from me when that occurred because I love Indianapolis, and the track has been amazing,” he said. “I didn’t hesitate one bit, but it was a tall challenge when I got there. It was really tough. Things didn’t go as well as any of us had hoped.”

Gordon said the 2,071 laps he has raced this season have been worth it, though, helping improve Hendrick’s Chevys while also improving his knowledge as a Fox Sports analyst.

“I was kind of happy to do more, sad about the situation, but if they needed me I wanted to do a little bit more to get more comfortable with the team and the cars,” he said. “I wanted to drive the cars with less downforce this year and see what it was like. Does me a lot of good when I get back in the Fox booth to kind of connect those dots and was a great experience. Each time I’ve been in the car, I feel like I’ve gotten better and better at giving the feedback that they need.”

Kyle, Kurt Busch compete in first day of Race of Champions exhibition

DOVER, DE - MAY 30:  Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, left, talks with brother Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway on May 30, 2015 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
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Kurt and Kyle Busch are in Miami this weekend to take part in the international auto racing competition, Race of Champions. The exhibition event is two days and pits drivers from every major auto racing league against each other.

The Busch brothers are the only NASCAR representatives in the competition. They are joined multiple Formula One drivers, Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, Alexander Rossi, Ryan-Hunter Reay, James Hinchciffe and Tony Kanaan and action sports star Travis Pastrana. Prior to the start of the races, all of the drivers got psyched up together.

And right before the event began, Kurt Busch showed off his new No. 41 Monster Energy Ford by doing donuts in the middle of the race course.

But when it came time to race Kurt Busch’s had a tough day. He and former Formula One driver David Coulthard competed in the vehicles used in the NASCAR Euro Series and Coulthard crossed the finish line with a healthy lead over the Stewart-Haas Racing driver.

Kyle Busch was marginally better in his first race against F1 driver Jenson Button, who won but with the Joe Gibbs Racing driver right at Button’s rear wheel.

But Kyle Busch bounced back in his second race and defeated Hinchcliffe, which advanced him out of the first round. But he was eliminated from the competition when he was swept by Coulthard in the next round.

In Kurt Busch’s second race, he faced Hunter-Reay, who was one of his teammates when he competed in the 2014 Indianapolis 500. Busch won, but he wasn’t able to advance to the next round.

The competition was eventually won by Montoya, who is taking part in the Race of Champions for the first time.

Both Busch brothers will be back on Sunday to compete for the Nations Cup.

Kyle Busch entered into SRL Winter Showdown Super Late Model race

JOLIET, IL - SEPTEMBER 16:  Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 NOS Energy Drink Toyota, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive for Safety 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 16, 2016 in Joliet, Illinois. Busch is seen here wearing his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series fire suit.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
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Kyle Busch is entered into the third annual SRL Winter Showdown, a Super Late Model race at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, California.

Busch, who is competing in the Race of Champions this weekend in Miami, will drive the No. 51 Toyota Camry sponsored by JBL in the Feb. 11 race.

Busch and his competitors will be trying to claim the $30,000 prize for winning the race. Kyle Busch Motorsports had a presence in last year’s Showdown when Todd Gilliland competed for the team.

“They have a pretty strong field lined up again this year with Bubba Pollard coming back and trying to make it three-in-a-row. And then you add in some of the West Coast guys like Derek Thorn, David Mayhew and Noah Gragson, who will be running one of my trucks full-time this season, and it has a lot of great drivers,” Busch told Speed51.com. “One of the things that is going to be really cool is that this will be the first time that Erik Jones and I get to race against each other in the supers since he beat me in the Snowball Derby back in 2013.”

Busch is quite successful in his Super Late Model career, having won the Snowball Derby, CRA SpeedFest, the Oxford 250, the Winchester 400 and the Battle at Berlin in recent years.

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Social Roundup: 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 20:  NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees (L-R)Richard Childress, Mark Martin, and Rick Hendrick pose for a portrait prior to the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Induction Ceremony at NASCAR Hall of Fame on January 20, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
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Last night, the NASCAR Hall of Fame inducted its eighth class, including Rick Hendrick, Richard Childress, Mark Martin, Benny Parsons and Raymond Parks.

The night was filled with current and future Hall of Famers celebrating the history of the sport and the lives of the five inductees.

MORE: Benny Parsons’ Hall of Fame induction an emotional celebration

MORE: Mark Martin went from a “broken man” to a Hall of Famer

Here’s a look at how the night played out on social media with observations on the inductees from current NASCAR drivers and one message from future NFL Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.

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‘Only in America’: Richard Childress cherishes Hall of Fame induction (Video)

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CHARLOTTE — Richard Childress traced his Dickensian rise from humble beginnings to six championships in NASCAR’s premier series during his Hall of Fame induction speech Friday.

Childress, who grew up in poverty in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, won six championships in NASCAR’s premier series with fellow high school dropout Dale Earnhardt. After starting as an independent driver-owner who never won in a dogged career from 1968-81, Childress switched to focusing solely on running a team.

His grandson, Austin Dillon, now drives the No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing that Earnhardt made famous.

“Only in America could a kid selling peanuts and popcorn at Bowman Gray Stadium have a dream of becoming a race driver some day,” Childress said. “And then he goes out and buys him an old ’47 Plymouth (and) pays $20 for it — that was the best investment I ever made — and have a dream of being a NASCAR driver some day, be standing up here tonight to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  Only in America.  What a great country we live in.”

During his speech, Childress made several references to a wall he’d like to put in the stock-car museum to signify all those who paved the way for his success.

“I’d like to put a 10‑foot by 20‑foot granite wall with thousands of names etched in it that’s helped me all along the way to get here tonight,” he said. “I can’t thank you all, but I want to put you on a great granite wall to where I can thank you for getting us up here.

“But on that granite wall, the first thing would be my family.  My wife Judy, my daughter Tina, my son‑in‑law, Mike Dillon, grandson Ty and his wife Haley, she’s here tonight.  Grandson Austin and his fiancé, Whitney Ward.  I couldn’t have done it without you all’s support.  We are a NASCAR racing family.”