Jeff Gordon on late-race speeding penalty: ‘I ruined it for us.’


MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Denny Hamlin’s car roared by, a thick plume of white smoke trailing in celebration of his fifth career NASCAR Sprint Cup win at Martinsville Speedway, while Jeff Gordon unbuckled his seat belts and prepared to climb out of his car on pit road.

That could have been Gordon burning rubber and rewarding fans with the victory had he not sped on pit road. Instead, Gordon’s chances of winning ended when he was penalized on Lap 462 after entering pit road in the lead.

“That’s all on me,’’ Gordon radioed his team after rallying from 22nd to finish ninth. “I’m sorry guys we lost that one.’’

As his Cup career comes to a close, there are fewer chances for redemption. He’ll have the fall race here and maybe another chance or two after that – Gordon has said if he came back to drive in the series after this season he’d consider running at Martinsville. That didn’t help after exiting his car.

“That was really devastating,’’ Gordon said. “I feel pain because we had a golden opportunity to be right there, and I ruined it for us.’’

What made it worse was that his car was the best it had been all day.

“I couldn’t believe we were in the top 10,’’ he said. “I thought we were just trying to get to 25th.’’

Gordon’s faux pas marked the second consecutive race at Martinsville a speeding penalty cost him a chance for the win. Gordon lamented the speeding penalty he received at this track during last year’s Chase. Had he won, he would have earned a spot in the Chase finale at Homestead and his incident with Brad Keselowski late in the Texas race the following week would not have kept him from contending for a fifth series crown.

Gordon said Sunday’s situation was different from what happened last fall.

“That was a situation where we were between a second- and third-gear option down pit road,’’ Gordon said. “To eliminate that from happening, I made sure I ran second gear today all day long. I don’t  know. I have no idea. It had to be really, really close. I thought I did everything perfect.’’

NASCAR did not release Gordon’s speed. Pit road speed was 30 mph. NASCAR gives teams an allowance of 4.99 mph, thus Gordon had to have gone faster than 34.99 to be penalized.

Based on how Gordon ran early in Sunday’s race, ninth wouldn’t have seemed like a bad finish even for someone who has eight Martinsville victories.

“I just got so loose so quick,’’ Gordon said of his struggles early in the race. “I was afraid of that. I mentioned it before the race. When this place isn’t laying rubber, we seem to really struggle with wearing out the left rear tire really bad. It really bit us today.’’

Gordon credited crew chief Alan Gustafson and his team for making the right adjustments that when the track began to take rubber, Gordon’s car was strong.

“As we made adjustments and we started to be really competitive that’s when I started getting excited that we are as good as we were last year, as good as I feel like we can be. It’s been up-and-down this year, so we need these kind of performances.’’


NASCAR Power Rankings: William Byron, Kyle Busch rank 1-2


Kyle Busch moved closer to the top spot after his win Sunday at WWT Raceway, but William Byron keeps hold of No. 1 after another top-10 run.

The series heads to Sonoma Raceway this weekend, the second race of the season on a road course.


(Previous ranking in parenthesis)

1. William Byron (1) — He goes into Sonoma with six consecutive top-10 finishes after his eighth-place result at WWT Raceway. Byron has led a series-high 717 laps this season.

2. Kyle Busch (4) — Recorded his third win of the season Sunday. He is tied with Byron for most wins this year. Busch scored 59 of a maximum 60 points and won his first stage of the year Sunday. He has 16 playoff points. Only Byron has more with 17 this season.

3. Kyle Larson (3) — His fourth-place finish continued his up-and-down season. In the last nine races, Larson has two wins, four top fives, a 20th-place result and four finishes of 30th or worse. He has led 588 laps this season, which ranks second this year to Byron.

4. Martin Truex Jr. (2) — His fifth-place finish is his sixth top 10 in the last eight races. He ranks third in laps led this year with 383.

5. Denny Hamlin (7) — Runner-up result at WWT Raceway is his fourth top 10 in the last seven races.

6. Ryan Blaney (10) — Followed Coca-Cola 600 win with a sixth-place run at WWT Raceway. He had an average running position of 2.6 on Sunday, second only to winner Kyle Busch’s average running position of 1.9.

7. Joey Logano (9) — Third-place finish is his second top 10 in the last four races.

8. Kevin Harvick (NR) — His 10th-place finish is his fourth consecutive finish of 11th or better.

9. Ross Chastain (6) — Lost the points lead after placing 22nd, his third consecutive finish outside the top 20.

10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (NR) — Headed for his eighth top 15 in a row until he was collected in a crash after the contact between Austin Cindric and Austin Dillon late in Sunday’s race.

Dropped out: Chase Elliott (5th), Tyler Reddick (8th)

NASCAR will not penalize Austin Cindric for incident with Austin Dillon


Despite Richard Childress and Austin Dillon saying that Austin Cindric intentionally wrecked Dillon late in Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway, NASCAR will not penalize Cindric.

Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that there would be no penalty to Cindric after reviewing the contact.

Dillon and Childress were upset about the incident, which brought out the caution on Lap 220 of the 243-lap race. Dillon said NASCAR should suspend Cindric for the contact, just as NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for hooking Denny Hamlin in the Coca-Cola 600.

Contact between the left front of Cindric’s car and the right rear of Dillon’s car sent Dillon up the track into Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Dillon finished 31st. Cindric continued and placed 13th.

Dillon told “I was wrecked intentionally by (Cindric), hooked right just like Chase and Denny and Bubba’s deal (in wrecking Kyle Larson at Las Vegas in 2022). He better be suspended next week.”

Childress said: “(Dillon) had drove up to about 10th until (Cindric) wrecked him in there on purpose, sort of a payback.”

Sawyer said a review of the incident included viewing video and data.

“We didn’t see anything — and haven’t seen anything — that really would rise to a level that would be a suspension or a penalty,” Sawyer said. “It looked like hard racing. One car coming up a little bit and another car going down.

“As we said last week, we take these incidents very serious when we see cars that are turned head-on into another car or head-on into the wall. I spent a lot of time (Monday) looking at that, looking at all the data, looking at TV footage and just deemed this one really hard racing.”

Sawyer said NASCAR plans to talk to both Cindric and Dillon “to make sure we’re all in a good place as we move forward to Sonoma.”



Seven Cup drivers entered in Xfinity race at Sonoma


Kyle Larson is among seven Cup drivers entered in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Sonoma Raceway.

The race marks the first time the Xfinity Series has competed at the California road course. Teams will get 50 minutes of practice Friday because this is a new event on the schedule. That additional time will give those Cup drivers more laps on the 1.99-mile road course.

MORE: Sonoma Xfinity entry list

Here is a look at what Xfinity rides the Cup drivers will pilot this weekend:

The race is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET Saturday.

The ARCA Menards Series West also is competing this weekend at Sonoma Raceway. Cup driver Ryan Preece is entered in that event. Xfinity drivers Cole Custer, Riley Herbst, Sammy Smith and Parker Retzlaff also are entered in that race, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. ET Friday.


Winners and losers at WWT Raceway


Winners and losers from Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway:


Kyle BuschWins the pole, leads the most laps and holds the field off over the last five restarts to win the race. He scored six playoff points, giving him 16 on the season, second only to William Byron’s 17. Busch left Joe Gibbs Racing after last season for Richard Childress Racing. Busch’s three wins this year equals what JGR has done so far.

Ryan BlaneyHis sixth-place finish moved him into the points lead. He last led the points after the spring 2022 Richmond race. Blaney also won a stage Sunday to collect another playoff point. He has seven this season.

Kyle LarsonFourth-place finish was a big turnaround after struggles earlier in the race. It has not been easy for this team the last few weeks. He has three top-five finishes and four finishes of 20th or worse in the last seven races.

Daniel SuarezHis seventh-place finish moved him up two spots to 16th in the standings, the final playoff transfer spot at this time.


Ross ChastainHe finished 22nd for his third consecutive result outside the top 20. He entered the weekend leading the points and fell to fifth afterward. He is 29 points behind new series leader Ryan Blaney with 11 races left in the regular season.

Tyler ReddickRebounded from an early spin to lead but had his race end after a brake rotor failed. He was one of four drivers eliminated by brake rotor failures. The others were Carson Hocevar, Bubba Wallace and Noah Gragson.