NASCAR AMERICA: Crew chief Gustafson key to Jeff Gordon’s renaissance (VIDEO)

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After the end of the 2010 Sprint Cup season, Hendrick Motorsports made some changes to their crew chief lineup. Among those changes was the installment of Alan Gustafson as CC for the No. 24 team of Jeff Gordon (Gordon’s previous CC, Steve Letarte, became the CC for Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the No. 88 team).

Since 2011, Gordon, Gustafson, and the No. 24 camp have endured through bouts of inconsistency. But starting from last year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup, the group has been one of the strongest in the Cup garage.

This year, Gordon’s “Drive for Five” has received a major jolt with three victories, including one last weekend at Michigan International Speedway.

And while Gustafson may not get a lot of press compared to fellow HMS crew chiefs Letarte and Chad Knaus (Jimmie Johnson), it’s clear that he’s played a big role in Gordon’s renaissance.

Today on NASCAR AMERICA, the crew talked about how Gordon and Gustafson have cultivated the strong dynamic that has led them to success. You can hear their thoughts in the clip above.

IndyCar star Scott Dixon to test skills on ‘American Ninja Warrior’

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Scott Dixon will be the latest IndyCar driver to enter the realm of reality TV when he auditions in Indianapolis next week for “American Ninja Warrior.”

The four-time IndyCar champion, nicknamed “The Iceman,” thought it sounded fun when he was approached with the idea of trying out. As the competition has drawn near, Dixon is wondering what he got himself into.

“I feel a lot of pressure on this one,” Dixon told The Associated Press before heading to this weekend’s Honda Grand Prix of Alabama IndyCar race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. “When it got to be about a month away, I figured I should start training for it, and it’s pretty hard stuff.”

IndyCar drivers Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden and Tony Kanaan all auditioned for the show, which follows competitors as they tackle a series of obstacle courses in qualifying rounds across the country. None of IndyCar’s contestants advanced out of the first round and neither did NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Dixon’s appearance comes about the same time the Game Show Network has Sebastien Bourdais as a guest host for “Daily Draw” for the entire week leading into the month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Most recently, Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly teamed to finish fourth on “The Amazing Race,” and James Hinchcliffe was a runner-up last year on “Dancing With The Stars.” Castroneves is a former “DWTS” winner.

Dixon, the 2008 winner of the Indianapolis 500 who ranks fourth on IndyCar’s all-time wins list, is accustomed to success. But the New Zealander not so sure he’s going to become the next great ninja. Most of his fitness work focuses on endurance training, and preparing for the obstacle course has taken Dixon out of his element.

“It’s not my wheelhouse,” he said. “This is agility kind of stuff and I’m looking forward to the process. I’m not looking forward so much to the failure, because it’s going to happen at some point, so I guess I just have to make the most of it and enjoy the experience.”

Dixon was famously robbed at gunpoint in the drive-thru of a Taco Bell last year hours after he won the pole for the Indy 500. Asked if his ninja training will have him better prepared should that happen again, he did not think so.

“I suppose if I run away it would help,” Dixon said. “But I don’t exactly have a ninja toolkit to get me through that situation.”