Jeff Gordon set to turn ‘Drive for Five’ into high gear in Chase

1 Comment

Given where he’s at right now, retirement appears to be the furthest thing from Jeff Gordon’s mindset.

Having finished second in Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway, and entering the upcoming Chase as the No. 2 seed, Gordon is unquestionably bound and determined to fulfill his season-long goal of a fifth career Sprint Cup championship.

He’s been chasing his “Drive For Five” since his fourth Cup crown in 2001, but this year could very well be the time Gordon finally realizes that goal.

“I’m very confident because we have such a great race team,” Gordon told ESPN after the race. “I’m so proud of Alan (crew chief Alan Gustafson), all of our engineers and everyone on this No. 24 team.”

Not only has Gordon led the Sprint Cup standings for 15 of the first 26 races this season, he also earned his 17th top-10 finish in the same 26 races. That equalizes the total number of top-10 finishes he had all of last season.

“Our fans, the way they’ve embraced this season, has been extremely motivating,” Gordon said. “I know how proud they are and we know how proud we are of the effort and the results that we’re getting this year. Ten more weeks that we have to get it done, and this team’s ready to do that.”

Had there been maybe another five more laps, Gordon may very well have caught eventual race winner and Chase No. 1 seed Brad Keselowski.

“I didn’t feel like we had a car that could compete with Brad at some points of the night, but we never gave up,” Gordon said. “Great pit stops and adjustments at the end and we were closing on him (Keselowski).

“It wasn’t a win, but still great momentum to carry into the Chase. This team’s on fire and we can’t wait to get it started.”

Gordon, who turned 43 last month, praised Gustafson for being one of the major reasons why the team has performed so well this season.

“We clicked, I’ve felt, right from the beginning, but I don’t know if we’ve ever really had the chemistry or been in sync like we are right now,” Gordon said of Gustafson. “I believe in him 100 percent and he believes in me 100 percent, and that’s trickled down to the rest of the team.

“This is the team I want to go to battle with for the next 10 weeks. … It’s a team that really believes in one another. You can’t ask for more than that. Well, fast race cars, but we have that, too.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Indianapolis Motor Speedway can have 10,000 fans for IndyCar races

Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Indianapolis Motor Speedway will have crowds for its NTT IndyCar Series race weekend next month, the first time fans are allowed at the track this year.

The track announced Friday that up to 10,000 fans will be allowed in the grandstands daily from Oct. 1-4. The IndyCar Harvest GP race doubleheader will be held on the track’s road course Oct. 2-3.

IMS has played host to several events this year without fans, including the 104th Indianapolis 500 on Aug. 23 and a NASCAR-IndyCar weekend July 4-5 that included the Brickyard 400. Plans originally were made to have fans at the Indy 500 before reversing course a few weeks ahead of the race. In a letter last month, Roger Penske vowed that fans would return for the 2021 Indy 500.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS president Doug Boles said in a release. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

Fans will undergo temperature screenings upon entry and also be required to wear face coverings at all times on property. The track said each attendee will receive a mask and bottle of hand sanitizer.

The Friday, Oct. 2 race will be shown at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA, and NBC will broadcast the Saturday, Oct. 3 race at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Here’s the release from Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020 – For the first time in 2020, Indianapolis Motor Speedway will welcome fans to the Racing Capital of the World for the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR weekend. Up to 10,000 spectators can be in the grandstands each day of racing action Oct. 1-4, per approval from the Marion County Public Health Department.

Tickets are available now via IMS.com and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

The massive facility, which holds more than 300,000 people, will provide two spectator zones with up to 5,000 fans in each. The zones will be located in Turns 1 and 4 of the oval, offering strong sightlines of the road course. Strict health and safety rules will be in place, including the following:

  • Face coverings must be worn throughout the property at all times;
  • All fans will receive temperature screenings before gate entry;
  • Grandstand seats will be marked for distancing;
  • Attendees must use pre-assigned gates and remain in their designated zones.

Global Medical Response, the world leader in compassionate, quality emergency medical and patient relocation services, will be the presenting sponsor of the penultimate weekend of INDYCAR racing this season.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

The plan, which includes each attendee receiving a mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer upon entering the track, was developed in consultation with state and local health officials.

This event weekend is highlighted by an NTT INDYCAR SERIES doubleheader, with races Friday, Oct. 2 and Saturday, Oct. 3. It will be the penultimate event of the series’ season as the field pursues the champion’s prestigious Astor Challenge Cup to be awarded Sunday, Oct. 25 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The INDYCAR Harvest GP will pay tribute to a storied IMS event, the Harvest Classic in September 1916. The Harvest Classic was the only racing event held outside of May at IMS from 1911 through 1993. The event featured three races, all won by legendary driver Johnny Aitken.

Fans also will see a host of facility improvements during the event weekend, including more than 30 new LED video boards, refreshed concession stands and restrooms, and 5G wireless connectivity throughout the facility.

The first race will air at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Friday, Oct. 2 on the USA Network. NBC will broadcast the second race at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday, Oct. 3, with WTHR-13 airing the action live in Central Indiana.

Also racing that weekend will be the first pairing of two major sports car series — the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli and its North American counterpart, GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS. Former Indianapolis 500 pole winner Ryan Briscoe is among the drivers in the Indianapolis 8 Hour event held Sunday, Oct. 4.

The event also will showcase drivers in SRO America’s Pirelli GT4 America, GT Sports Club America and the TC America series.

The full on-track schedule is available at IMS.com.