NASCAR notes: Gordon can hit a milestone, Keselowski seeks turnaround

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Two of the most prominent drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage could use this Saturday night’s race at Kentucky Speedway as a big turnaround point in their seasons.

Jeff Gordon has the opportunity for his first win since the 2012 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. That win crossed that track off his career win checklist, and leaves only Kentucky on the calendar as a track he hasn’t won at.

Meanwhile defending champion Brad Keselowski is mired in a slump, with finishes outside the top 10 in seven of the last eight races. He’s fallen from third to ninth in points as a result, and without a win thus far he could be in jeopardy of failing to secure a berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Further analysis from Sports Illustrated is linked here.

Reviewing Danica Patrick’s highs and lows at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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So much of Danica Patrick’s fame can be traced to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It’s where she became a household name 13 years ago when she became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 and emerged as a transcendent athlete.

It’s where everything started. This Sunday, it’s where everything will end, too.

In her last warmup before starting the final race of her career, Patrick had a bumpy final practice Friday on Carb Day. She was eighth fastest, but her Dallara-Chevrolet was in the garage most of the session because of an electrical problem in the engine. After returning during the final 10 minutes of the session, Patrick’s No. 13 seemed to be OK.

“At the end of the day, these are things you’re actually glad for, because if this had happened Sunday, we would have been done,” she said. “I’m glad to get the issues out of the way early on. Overall, today felt good. We made some changes when I went out the second time, and I’m feeling good about starting seventh on Sunday.”
Though she has had her share of success – along with a fourth in her debut, there was a third in 2009 and six top 10s in seven starts — Patrick has learned well how to handle frustration at the 2.5-mile track, too.

Fuel mileage might have kept her from winning her debut, a pit collision ruined 2008, and an unstable setup made 2010 a wild ride.

For a review of her up-and-down history at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and her legacy in racing, watch the video essay above that ran during Friday’s NASCAR America Motorsports Special on NBCSN.