Jeff Gordon set for 750th NASCAR Sprint Cup start in Atlanta

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The legend that is four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon, who’s having one of the best seasons of his career in 2014, will make his 750th Cup start this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

It’s a rather fitting venue too, since Gordon made his first start at the old AMS layout in 1992, prior to its 1997 reconfiguration. He has five total Atlanta victories, his last coming in a thrilling scrap with teammate Jimmie Johnson in 2011.

This week, Gordon will be back in the Panasonic Toughbook colors aboard his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

With 750 starts, all consecutive, Gordon ranks 11th on the all-time list. Ken Schrader sits in 10th with 763 career starts; Gordon would enter the top-10 all-time at, fittingly, Atlanta 2015.

He has 11 more races this year after Atlanta and Atlanta, which moves to the second race of the season in 2015, would be his 763rd start to tie Schrader’s mark.

Gordon has 91 career wins including three this year, only the second time in the last seven years (2011, 3) he’s had at least three victories.

Hendrick Motorsports has been re-tweeting some of fans’ favorite Gordon moments this morning. You can view a collection of them, here.

Hartley to make F1 debut from back of grid after penalty

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Brendon Hartley’s hopes of a points finish on his Formula 1 debut took a hit on Friday after the FIA confirmed the Toro Rosso driver will start the United States Grand Prix from the back of the grid due to an engine penalty.

Porsche factory driver and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Hartley was drafted in by Toro Rosso as a surprise replacement for Pierre Gasly in Austin, with the Frenchman tied up with Super Formula duties at Suzuka this weekend.

Hartley took to the track in an official grand prix session for the first time on Friday in Austin, marking his first run-out in an F1 car since a test with Mercedes in 20120.

However, FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer confirmed in his pre-race report that changes had been made to the power unit on Hartley’s Toro Rosso car since the last race in Japan, triggering a grid penalty.

Toro Rosso elected to take a new internal combustion engine, MGU-H, energy store and control electronics on Hartley’s Renault power unit, totaling a 25-place grid drop that will be applied after qualifying. Confirmation of the penalty is set to follow later today.

The penalty comes as a setback for Hartley, but was necessary as Toro Rosso found itself short on engine elements to get to the end of the season.

Hartley is not the only driver to have a penalty confirmed, with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne also taking new engine elements, also confirmed in Bauer’s report.

A new ICE, turbocharger and MGU-H for Hulkenberg will see him drop 20 places on the grid, while an eighth ICE of the year for Vandoorne will trigger a five-place drop.