Jeff Gordon earns pole for final Talladega start


A loud cheer went out over Talladega Superspeedway when fans realized that Jeff Gordon would start from the pole in his 46th and final race at the Alabama restrictor-plate track.

After being the fastest in the first round, Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet was the last car to take a lap in the second round of qualifying for Sunday’s 500. Gordon put up a speed of 194.500 mph to earn his third pole for a restrictor-plate race in 2015 and his fourth overall.

“These guys work extremely hard, I know everybody does for these restrictor-plate tracks, but to get the results like that and they’ve been doing it all year long on these tracks, that’s a complete credit to all of the details that come from the top down,” Gordon told NBCSN.

That goes for the entire Hendrick Motorsports operation this weekend. After a very long summer spent catching up to Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing, all four Hendrick cars will roll off in the top five Sunday. Kasey Kahne starts second (193.638 mph), followed by Jimmie Johnson (193.584), Joe Gibbs Racing’s Matt Kenseth (193.580) and Dale Earnhardt Jr (193.162).

Gordon’s pole is his fifth at the 2.66-mile track where he has won six times. Only one of those wins came from the pole. Gordon now has 81 poles in 793 career Sprint Cup races.

The only plate race Gordon didn’t earn a pole for was the July race at Daytona, which Earnhardt was awarded on practice speed due to rain.

“When we’ve gotten the opportunity to qualify we’ve been on the pole each time and that’s not an easy thing to do,” Gordon said. “Hopefully, we execute tomorrow and can learn from some of the mistakes (we’ve made). Me in particular, getting to pit road. We worked on that a lot yesterday. Other than that I feel real good about things.”

Only four other Chase for the Sprint Cup drivers made it to the second round. Kevin Harvick will start seventh, followed by Denny Hamlin in eighth. Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski start 10th and 11th.

Martin Truex Jr. will start from the rear Sunday after the qualifying time he posted in his No. 78 Chevrolet was disallowed after he went below the yellow line in the tri-oval. Truex’s time was the third fastest at the time.

This was the first time at Talladega the rule had been in place. Before Daytona in July, NASCAR changed the rule but there was no qualifying. Teams were reminded of the rule change in a packet of information sent to teams on Oct. 21. The line about the rule change read: “Cars MUST remain above the yellow line(s) during a qualifying attempt.”

Justin Allgaier was the last car to qualify in the first round after his team had to fix damage to the grill of his No. 51 Chevrolet. The damage was a result of Clint Bowyer accidentally backing into the car as he was leaving to go on his qualifying run.

Allgaier qualified 39th and Bowyer put up the 29th best time.



NASCAR Cup playoff standings after Coca-Cola 600


The severe penalty to Chase Briscoe and his Stewart-Haas Racing team Wednesday for a counterfeit part dropped Briscoe from 17th to 31st in the season standings. Briscoe now must win a race to have a chance at the playoffs.

The penalty came a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for his retaliation in wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600. Elliott is 28th in the points. The 2020 Cup champion also needs to win to have a chance to make the playoffs.

Ten drivers have won races, including Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney. That leaves six playoff spots to be determined by points at this time. With 12 races left in the regular season, including unpredictable superspeedway races at Atlanta (July 9) and Daytona (Aug. 26), the playoff standings will change during the summer.

Among those without a win this season are points leader Ross Chastain and former champions Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Elliott.

Here’s a look at the Cup playoff standings heading into Sunday’s Cup race at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois. Drivers in yellow have won a race and are in a playoff position. Those below the red line after 16th place are outside a playoff spot in the graphic below.

NASCAR issues major penalties to Chase Briscoe team for Charlotte infraction


NASCAR fined crew chief John Klausmeier $250,000 and suspended him six races, along with penalizing Chase Briscoe and the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team 120 points and 25 playoff points each for a counterfeit part on the car.

The issue was a counterfeit engine NACA duct, said Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, on Wednesday. That is a single-source part.

MORE: Updated Cup playoff standings

The team stated that it accepts the L3 penalty.

“We had a quality control lapse and a part that never should’ve been on a car going to the racetrack ended up on the No. 14 car at Charlotte,” said Greg Zipadelli in a statement from the team. “We accept NASCAR’s decision and will not appeal.”

Asked how then piece could have aided performance, Sawyer said Wednesday: “Knowing the race team mentality, they don’t do things that would not be a benefit to them in some way, shape or form from a performance advantage.”

The penalty drops Briscoe from 17th in the season standings to 31st in the standings. Briscoe goes from having 292 points to having 172 points. He’ll have to win to make the playoffs. Briscoe has no playoff points at this time, so the penalty puts him at -25 playoff points should he make it.

Briscoe’s car was one of two taken to the R&D Center after Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 for additional tear down by series officials.

The penalty comes a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in last weekend’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

NASCAR Championship Weekend returns to Phoenix in 2024


Phoenix Raceway will host the championship races for the Cup, Xfinity, Craftsman Truck and ARCA Menards Series in 2024, NASCAR announced Wednesday.

The races will be held Nov. 1-3, 2024. The Cup season finale will be Nov. 3, 2024. The only other Cup race for 2024 that has been announced is the Daytona 500. It will be held Feb. 18, 2024.

Phoenix Raceway has hosted the championship finale for Cup, Xfinity and Trucks since 2020. Chase Elliott won the Cup title there in 2020. Kyle Larson followed in 2021. Joey Logano won the crown there in 2022.

This year’s Cup finale at Phoenix will be Nov. 5 and air on NBC.



Drivers to watch at World Wide Technology Raceway


After the fireworks from the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR heads to World Wide Technology Raceway, a 1.25-mile speedway just outside of St. Louis. Sunday’s race (3:30 p.m. ET on FS1) marks the second time the Cup Series has raced at this track.

Much is at stake. The race to win the regular season championship has intensified. Tempers are high. The pressure to make the playoffs builds. Ten drivers have wins this season. Twelve races remain in the regular season.


Kyle Larson

  • Points position: 11th
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Richmond, Martinsville)
  • Past at WWTR: 12th last year

While a driver coming off back-to-back finishes of 20th or worse might not seem like a frontrunner, it actually does make Larson one. His topsy-turvy season has seen him place outside the top 10 in back-to-back races four times. In the three previous times he had consecutive finishes outside the top 10, he came back to finish second, first and second. Can he keep that streak going this weekend?

Bubba Wallace

  • Points position: 15th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Las Vegas I, Kansas I, Coca-Cola 600)
  • Past at WWTR: 26th last year

Wallace has scored three consecutive top-five finishes, his best streak in his Cup career. He has climbed from 21st to 15th in the standings during this run.

William Byron

  • Points position: 3rd
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Las Vegas I, Phoenix I, Darlington I)
  • Past at WWTR: 19th last year

Byron has finished no worse than seventh in the last five races. He’s led nearly 20% of the laps run during that time. Byron has averaged nearly 47 points a race during that streak.


Corey LaJoie

  • Points position: 20th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Atlanta I)
  • Past at WWTR: 36th last season

NASCAR’s one-race suspension to Chase Elliott gives LaJoie the chance to drive a Hendrick Motorsports car for the first time. This will be the best car LaJoie has driven in his career. Many eyes will be on him to see how he does.

Ross Chastain

Chastain has finished 29th and 22nd in the last two points races. He’s not gone more than three races without a top-10 finish this season. After his struggles last weekend at Charlotte, Chastain saw his lead cut to one point over Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney in the standings. Five drivers are within 17 points of Chastain in the season standings.

Aric Almirola

  • Points position: 26th
  • Best finish this season: 6th (Martinsville I)
  • Past at WWTR: 5th last year

Almirola has finished 13th or worse in all but one race this season for Stewart-Haas Racing. In the five races since placing sixth at Martinsville, Almirola has finished an average of 21.0.