NASCAR: Jeff Gordon unconcerned about Penske’s qualifying success

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In the aftermath of Team Penske’s third front row sweep of the season in Sprint Cup qualifying, Jeff Gordon said he’d be more worried if the Penske duo of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano were beating him when it counts.

Keselowski and Logano have won this season (in Logano’s case, twice), but Gordon’s Hendrick Motorsports outfit has been the dominant team as of late with five victories in the last six Sprint Cup points races.

The one they didn’t win in that span was last weekend at Sonoma – and HMS still had all four of its drivers finish within the Top 10 behind winner Carl Edwards.

Gordon qualified third for tomorrow night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, and while he was complimentary of what the Penske camp has done in qualifying, he also wasn’t exactly shaking in his driving shoes.

“At this point, we’ve kind of gotten used to it and we’re always going to work hard and try to beat it,” he said. “They’re really doing an amazing job with their cars for qualifying.

“But we seem to have something for them when they drop the green flag for the race. So whatever it is doesn’t seem to correlate to race runs as much.”

Gordon also indicated that Keselowski and Logano have capitalized on short runs to get their wins so far in 2014.

“Those guys are just so spectacular in qualifying but it doesn’t – they’ve won races, don’t get me wrong – but they’ve typically won races when it’s a real short run and they’ve got to get it done in [those],” he said.

That’s partially true overall. Logano’s win over Gordon at Texas was in Green-White-Checkered mode, and his win later on at Richmond came after he started fourth on the final restart with nine laps left (he took the lead with four to go). However, Keselowski’s win over Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Las Vegas was done with the final 42 laps under green-flag conditions.

At any rate, Gordon will be seeking his first win at Kentucky tomorrow night, which would also allow him to say that he’s won at every active track on the Sprint Cup circuit.

It’s a goal that the four-time series champion would be happy to reach.

“It would be very cool,” he said. “Most of my energy is spent with do we have a shot at winning at this track. I feel like we have run solid here the last few times we have been here.

“I feel like as good as our cars are this year that this is probably the most legitimate shot that we’ve had of crossing that one off the list.

“It would mean a lot. It would be quite an accomplishment and it’s something that I would love to say I have done.”

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”