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Podcast: Jeff Gordon on his past, present and future at Hendrick Motorsports


Rick Hendrick recently recalled his first meeting with Jeff Gordon. His future driver, barely in his 20s, showed up carrying a briefcase with a stock-car magazine and a Nintendo Game Boy.

So, what was with the briefcase, Jeff?

“I mean where else am I supposed to put my Game Boy?” Gordon asked with a laugh during Wednesday’s episode of the NASCAR on NBC podcast (and adding he also had an open-wheel magazine). “I did want to look professional. I guess I needed more than a briefcase. Somebody told me, probably my dad, you really need to get a briefcase to look the part. He forgot to tell me all the other pieces like the suit and tie and shaving the mustache.”

It didn’t hurt his chances for a ride at Hendrick Motorsports.

That first meeting in Hendrick’s office at his Charlotte dealership headquarters (Gordon remembers being “pretty nervous and intimidated. (Hendrick) was the coolest, nicest guy, and that certainly helped the decision”) began a business relationship and friendship that has lasted more than a quarter-century.

After four championships and 93 victories in Hendrick’s No. 24 Chevrolet from 1993-2015, Gordon retired to become a NASCAR on Fox analyst in ‘16. He remains actively involved with Hendrick Motorsports in an executive-level position, though (and once in the temporary role of substitute driver).

Calling it a “balancing act” that he has learned to master partly as a member of multiple councils in NASCAR (team owners, drivers, format changes), Gordon said his role shifts at the start of each year for six months.

“When January comes around, my attention focuses really primarily on Fox and the broadcast that’s going to go through June every weekend,” he said. “But in between that I’m doing all that I can whether on the marketing side, the PR side, the competition side with Hendrick to give my input and thoughts.

“So usually once after June is up, and I take a little time off, I’m really heavy into a lot of those meetings and decisions, working with (Hendrick president) Marshall Carlson, (competition executive) Jeff Andrews and (vice president of marketing) Pat Perkins in any way that I can assist and help.”

Gordon said he is hoping to ease the burden of Hendrick, who founded the powerhouse team in 1984 and restructured its competition department in the offseason.

“Rick has done this for so long and been so involved, and he still likes to be involved, but I think he’d like to take a step back at times, and he’s earned and deserved that and can enjoy life,” Gordon said. “So if I can take a little pressure off him whether it be interacting with sponsors or taking a specific meeting, then I’m there to do it.”

Gordon said it can be tricky at times to walk the line between broadcaster and team employee, noting that Hendrick’s “crew chiefs and engineers look at me slightly different” when he is doing preseason research on competition to help be better prepared and informed on air.

“I’m not trying to pull anything out for TV, but I can’t help but think in the back of their mind they’re going, ‘Well, is he going to retain this and use it on TV?’ I’ll say at the same time, that’s not the job,” he said. “The job is all about what is something that isn’t the obvious about the skill level of the driver, the crew chief, the pit crew, what the car is doing. I actually started out trying to get more on the technical side because I do like that. It’s a part of what you do as a driver. But sometimes that gets lost in the broadcast real quick because it can get too much. I think there’s just the right amount. All I want to do is be knowledgeable about it, not ‘Hey let’s reveal something that is a top-secret thing.’ ”

Being objective but also candid and critical of drivers when necessary also is important to Gordon, who kept some professional distance from his peers while in racing.

“I hope that if anyone listens to the broadcast and my point of view, that they realize I’m doing my absolute best to call it the way I see it and try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but also be as non-biased as possible,” he said. “And that becomes a challenge at times, too, because of my relationship with Hendrick Motorsports and the years I drove there, but I also have come to realize that everybody has a bias to some degree. It is a balancing act.”

Among other topics discussed on the podcast:

–His recent humorous encounter with an angry motorist on I-4 in Florida;

–The need for drama and emotions from drivers;

–His potential candidacy for the NASCAR Hall of Fame;

–The youth movement in the Cup Series (“I’m so anxious to watch what’s going to happen with some of these young guys … I see a lot of fans out there that love the sport and looking for that next driver to pull for to pull for the next 15-20 years.”);

–The best race he ever drove;

–The likelihood of his kids racing in the future;

Click on the embed above to hear the podcast or listen and subscribe to the NASCAR on NBC Podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcherGoogle PlaySpotify or wherever you download podcasts to receive the free episodes automatically.

Results, Xfinity point standings after Auto Club Speedway

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Joey Logano led 139 of 150 laps to win the Xfinity Series race at Auto Club Speedway. It is his 29th Xfinity win.

The Team Penske driver beat Justin Allgaier, Elliott Sadler, Austin Dillon and Daniel Hemric.

Team Penske has won the last two Xfinity races.

Click here for results

Point Standings

With a top-10 finish in all five races so far, Elliott Sadler retains a four-point lead over teammate Tyler Reddick.

The top five is completed by Justin Allgaier (-5), Christopher Bell (-27) and Daniel Hemric (-30).

Click here for the full standings.

Joey Logano wins Xfinity Series race at Auto Club Speedway

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Joey Logano led all but 11 laps on his way to winning Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Auto Club Speedway.

The Team Penske driver led the final eight laps to secure the victory in the Roseanne 300, the team’s first at the 2-mile track in the series.

Logano beat Justin Allgaier, Elliott Sadler, Austin Dillon and Daniel Hemric.

“Total team effort there,” Logano told Fox Sports 1. “Great pit stops, great car, oh my gosh. It’s one of those races that you feel relieved when you win. … Man, you’re supposed to win when you have a car that fast.”

Logano led 139 of 150 laps. He took the lead for the first time on Lap 5. He didn’t relinquish it until he was the only leader to pit on Lap 122 during a debris caution.

He restarted 16th and was back in the lead within four laps.

Logano was the only one to pit because on the previous caution he was the only leader who stayed out. He managed to retain the lead.

“I did not opt to do that, (crew chief) Brian (Wilson) opted to do that,” Logano said. “It ended up working out. I thought we were going to lose more track position than we did. … Just shows how fast our car was.”

It’s the second consecutive win for Team Penske after Brad Keselowski won last week at ISM Raceway.

The win, Logano’s 29th, is his first in the Xfinity Series since the March 2017 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Joey Logano

STAGE 2 WINNER: Joey Logano

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Austin Dillon finished fourth after starting 19th … Daniel Hemric finished fifth for his best finish of the season … Ross Chastain finished 10th for his ninth top 10 and just his third on a non-restrictor plate track.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Matt Mills brought out the first caution on Lap 33 after getting into the Turn 2 wall … John Hunter Nemechek lost his right front tire on Lap 70. It caused significant damage to his No. 42 Chevrolet. He finished 29th … Pole-sitter Christopher Bell spun on Lap 97 into the frontstretch grass … On Lap 104, Bell was involved in a crash with Michael Annett on the frontstretch when Annett came up the track and forced him into the wall. Bell finished 21st … After starting in the top 12, Kaz Grala wrecked coming to the checkered flag while racing with Ryan Truex and Brandon Jones. He finished 14th.

NOTABLE: Team Penske is now winless at three active tracks in the Xfinity Series … Joey Logano joins Jack Ingram as the second driver to finish in the top seven in his first 10 starts at a track (Ingram did it at three different tracks).

POST-RACE INSPECTION: Ryan Preece‘s No. 18 Toyota had one unsecured lug nut.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “When you have a car that’s that strong and a driver that’s this good, sometimes he has to dig you out of some holes.” – Brian Wilson, crew chief for Joey Logano.

WHAT’S NEXT: My Bariatric Solutions 300 at Texas Motor Speedway at 3 p.m. ET on April 7 on Fox


Kyle Busch tops final Cup practice at Auto Club Speedway

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Kyle Busch was fastest in the final Cup practice for Sunday’s race at Auto Cub Speedway.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver posted a top speed of 185.668 mph.

Busch was followed by the pole-sitter for race, Martin Truex Jr. (185.319).

“We feel OK about it, obviously I’d like to feel a titch better,” Busch told Fox Sports 1. “We kind of slowed up a little bit as the practice went along. I know everybody did but it felt like a couple of guys got closer to us as it went along. We were really good firing off there.”

The top five was completed by Jimmie Johnson (184.525), Kevin Harvick (184.308) and Brad Keselowski (184.280).

Harvick, fastest in the first two practice sessions for the Auto Club 400, will seek his fourth consecutive Cup win tomorrow. He had the best 10-lap average at 180.161 mph.

Busch recorded the most laps in the session with 45.

There were no accidents in the session. Kyle Larson did cut a tire, but his No. 42 Chevrolet was not damaged.

Click here for the final practice report.

Christopher Bell wins pole for Xfinity race at Auto Club Speedway

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Christopher Bell qualified first for this afternoon’s Xfinity Series race at Auto Club Speedway.

Bell claimed the pole for the Roseanne 300 with a speed of 181.059 mph to earn his third pole of the year.

Joey Logano qualified second with a speed of 180.923 mph. He has started on the front row in five of 10 Xfinity starts at Auto Club Speedway.

Bell’s pole joins the ones he earned at Atlanta and Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“Qualifying is about speed and this No. 20 team has had speed,” Bell told Fox Sports 1. “Every time we unload at a race track we have really fast Camrys and this week is no exception. … We we unloaded yesterday we were really good, really happy. I was just a little bit loose. Anytime we tightened it up and got it more comfortable for me to drive we slowed down.”

The top five is completed by John Hunter Nemechek (180.923), Cole Custer (179.933) and Daniel Hemric (179.879).

Rookie Kaz Grala qualified 12th for his career-best starting spot through five starts.

Grala’s teammate, Dylan Luptonwrecked in Turn 1 during his qualifying run in Round 1 and will start the race in a backup car.

Click here for qualifying results.