NASCAR: Drive to End Hunger returning as primary sponsor for Jeff Gordon

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Hendrick Motorsports may be losing the backing of the National Guard at season’s end, but has retained another of its more prominent sponsors.

The AARP’s Drive to End Hunger campaign will again be featured on Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet next season, serving as a primary sponsor for 13 races (including the Daytona 500) and as an associate in all other Sprint Cup events.

“What’s been accomplished by Drive to End Hunger in a relatively short time is absolutely inspiring,” HMS owner Rick Hendrick said in a statement. “At the beginning, we felt the program would ultimately be judged on how many lives it impacted.

“There’s no question it’s been successful by that measure, but we still have much more to do. Our team is proud to continue the effort alongside our friends at AARP and AARP Foundation and with the incredible support of the NASCAR community.”

Since the campaign’s inception in 2011, more than 30 million meals have been donated as part of its effort to fight hunger among adults over the age of 50 and help create short and long-term solutions to older adult hunger.

Next season will mark the AARP’s fifth as a primary sponsor for Gordon and the No. 24 team.

“NASCAR fans have been such a big part of the success of Drive to End Hunger, and we’re really grateful for that,” said Gordon, who continues to sit atop the Sprint Cup championship standings going into this weekend’s Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International.

“I’ve seen them packing meals, texting donations and getting involved in their communities. AARP and AARP Foundation are incredible partners to be involved with, and I’m very happy to continue our work together. It’s been an extremely rewarding and humbling experience for me personally.”

F1 2017 driver review: Kimi Raikkonen

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Kimi Raikkonen

Team: Scuderia Ferrari
Car No.: 7
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 7
Best Finish: P2 (Monaco, Hungary)
Pole Positions: 1
Fastest Laps: 2
Points: 205
Laps Led: 40
Championship Position: 4th

While this may have statistically been Kimi Raikkonen’s best campaign since his first year back in F1 in 2012, there is a good case for it being one of his most disappointing to date.

Raikkonen’s continued role at Ferrari has been questioned on a number of occasions, but the Finn looked capable of answering his critics heading into 2017 after impressing through pre-season testing as he appeared to get to grips well with the new-style cars.

But we soon grew accustomed to the same old story: flashes of potential, but otherwise an underwhelming, unsatisfactory campaign that saw Raikkonen be dwarfed by his teammate, Sebastian Vettel.

Raikkonen’s charge to his first pole position for over eight years in Monaco gave hope of a popular win, only for Ferrari to play its strategy in favor of title contender Vettel – why wouldn’t the team do so? – to leave him a disgruntled second.

While Vettel was able to impress at the majority of circuits, Raikkonen only looked strong at tracks that were unquestionably ‘Ferrari’ tracks, such as Hungary and Brazil. Like Vettel, Raikkonen should have racked up a good haul of points in Singapore, only for the start-line crash to sideline both Ferraris before they even reached Turn 1.

Again there is the question of ‘what could have been?’ in Malaysia had it not been for the spark plug issue on the grid, yet in Japan, Raikkonen was nowhere, finishing behind the Mercedes and Red Bulls.

Finishing just five points clear of Daniel Ricciardo despite having a much faster car for the best part of the season and the Red Bull driver’s own reliability issues sums up the disappointment of Raikkonen’s campaign.

He should have been an ally for Vettel in the title race by nicking points of Lewis Hamilton, much as Valtteri Bottas was doing for his Mercedes teammate. Instead, Raikkonen seemed to be tagging along for the best part of this season.

Season High: Pole in Monaco, his first since the 2008 French Grand Prix.

Season Low: Finishing a distant P4 at Spa – a circuit he made his own in the 2000s.