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.”

Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
Barry Chin / Getty Images
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Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

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Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.