Jeff Gordon fastest in first Martinsville Sprint Cup practice

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Chase contender and defending Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 champion Jeff Gordon logged the fastest time of Friday’s lone Sprint Cup qualifying session at Martinsville Speedway.

Gordon, an eight-time winner at NASCAR’s shortest track, turned in a lap of 19.079 seconds (99.250 miles per hour) and led a group of four Chasers within the Top 5.

Joey Logano was one one-hundredth of a second off of Gordon in the session with a lap of 19.089 seconds, good for P2. Denny Hamlin, a four-time Martinsville victor, was third-fastest with a time of 19.100 seconds and last week’s winner at Talladega, Brad Keselowski, was fifth on the time sheets (19.114 seconds). The lone non-Chase driver in the Top 5 was Jamie McMurray (19.105 seconds) in fourth.

“I think there’s kind of a difference in short-run speed and long-run speed in race trim,” Hamlin told Fox Sports on how his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota is faring so far. “[We’re] trying to work through some different packages to figure out what that is, [we’re] still digging. We made some improvements with our FedEx Freight Camry, and hopefully, we’ll continue that trend in qualifying.”

That qualifying session comes later this afternoon at 4:40 p.m. ET, and at Martinsville, a critical spot up front on the grid is key to success; the pole position has produced 21 wins at Martinsville, more than any other starting position. Also, more than 70 percent of all Martinsville wins have come from a Top-10 start.

“We really just need a good Top-6 or 7 qualifying effort to get you a good pit stall here,” Hamlin said. “That’s very important, and hopefully, we’re able to do that.”

Among the other Chasers, Matt Kenseth was seventh-fastest, Ryan Newman was 11th-fastest, Carl Edwards was 12th-fastest, and Kevin Harvick was 15th-fastest.


IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”