Jeff Gordon prepares for 700th Cup start at Darlington

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As four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon heads for his 700th career start (all consecutive) in NASCAR’s premier series this weekend at Darlington Raceway, the venerable driver is acknowledging the milestone but not putting a lot of emphasis on it.

“I’ve been fortunate to race this long and have the type of career I’ve had,” he said. “It’s really cool to see that this will be my 700th start, but it’s not something I really paid attention to. It’s hard to believe I’ve run that many – especially consecutively.”

Through his previous 699 starts, the Hendrick Motorsports driver has evolved from an up-and-coming “Wonder Boy” to one of the sport’s most decorated veterans with his four Sprint Cups and 87 career victories. Seven of those wins, as well as 18 of his 299 Top-5 finishes have come at Darlington’s infamous egg-shaped oval.

Adding to the inherent challenge that Darlington presents is the fact that the Generation-6 machines will be visiting the track “Too Tough To Tame” for the first time this weekend. Suffice to say, Gordon has lots of other things to worry about besides hitting the 700-race mark in his career.

“The [car] will be fast and have a lot of grip,” he said. “But racing the track while working traffic will be as tough as ever.

“They repaved Darlington a few years back, so it’s not the same track it used to be 10 years ago. But it’s still one of those tracks where you have to push hard but be patient. And it’s still one of those tracks you must respect.”

Gordon is tops amongst all active drivers at Darlington in wins, Top 5s, and laps led (1,720 — 903 laps more than any other driver).

Red Bull Air Race: Yoshi Muroya joins Sato as Japanese champs at Indy

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool
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Takuma Sato isn’t the only major Japanese athlete to take home top honors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. Countryman Yoshihide Muroya joined him in that on Sunday after winning Red Bull Air Race at IMS, and the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the process.

Fittingly, the 101st Indianapolis 500 champion was there on site to join him in the celebration.

Muroya flew with a track-record run in the final and erased the four-point deficit to points leader Martin Sonka. The record run came after a disappointing qualifying effort of 11th in the 14-pilot field in the Master Class.

A day after the win, Muroya joined Sato in heading to Sato’s new Verizon IndyCar Series team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s, Indianapolis-based shop.

A few social posts from Muroya’s victory and the subsequent celebration are below.

CHECKING OUT EACH OTHER’S RIDES

ASTLES BREAKS THOUGH AS WELL

Muroya wasn’t alone among big winners at the Speedway. In the Challenger Class, Melanie Astles of France became the first woman to win a major race at IMS, and is the first female winner in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.

Nine women have competed in the Indianapolis 500 (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Ana Beatriz, Katherine Legge) and Mann is the first woman to have been on the pole position at IMS, having done so for the Freedom 100 in 2010 in Indy Lights.

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool