After runner-up finish at Martinsville, Jeff Gordon in Chase driver’s seat

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In light of Sunday’s runner-up finish in the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway, Jeff Gordon’s “Drive For Five” has now become a drive for three.

As in three races stand between Gordon and his fifth career Sprint Cup championship – and his first since 2001.

Gordon left Martinsville finishing just a split-second behind winning Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“It was a great performance, a really good finish,” Gordon told ESPN after the race. “I about threw this one away on pit road with the speeding (penalty he received earlier in the race).

“Then there at the end, we were stuck on the outside on the restarts. At that point, it was just a matter of clawing our way back.

“To have a 1-2 finish, it’s pretty awesome. I would have loved to have gotten that win to move on to Homestead, but this is certainly a great start for us. We have two more great tracks for us coming up.”

Indeed Gordon does with Texas and Phoenix still to come in the Eliminator Round.

But while finishing second is typically the first loser, that’s not the case for Gordon. He moves to the second race in the three-race Eliminator Round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup with the lead in the points standings.

Ryan Newman (minus-3), Joey Logano (-4), Matt Kenseth (-5) and Denny Hamlin (-7) are all within striking distance of Gordon heading to next Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway.

At the same time, Gordon has a hearty lead over the other three drivers still in the Chase: he leads Carl Edwards by 20 points, Brad Keselowski by 31 and Kevin Harvick brings up the rear of the Chase standings, 33 points behind Gordon.

“I’ve never felt like you couldn’t think about being consistent in this format, but points can still get you through,” Gordon said. “Winning gets you through but points still can.

“It’s good I was second to someone not in the Chase. Had it been someone in the Chase, it would have been hard to swallow.”

As the final two laps played out, Gordon thought long and hard about trying to move Earnhardt out of the way with a bump-and-run, but that strategy and Gordon’s car both fell short of actually doing so.

“I would have moved him, for sure,” Gordon said in his post-race media conference. “Everyone who’s out there has to weigh risk versus reward, and it’s worth taking the risk even if you upset your teammate.

“If that guy can win the race and put himself in Homestead, you can pretty much guarantee you’ll get the bumper. Dale drove a nice clean race and I never had an opportunity (to get close). I didn’t have the car to run him down.

“We had our opportunities. It wouldn’t matter who it was, I would have taken big chances, big risks. You can do that here in Martinsville. There’s a lot of tactics you can use to win the race.”

In addition to not being able to catch and potentially move Earnhardt, Gordon was still kicking himself for the earlier speeding penalty.

“Unfortunately, I lost this race today because of my mistake on pit road,” he said. “We played catch-up the rest of the day.

“I felt had we been in control of the race, we would have been in a much better position to win this race. It wasn’t easy to come back and we got pretty fortunate. (It was a) good points day.”

And then, as if almost an afterthought, Gordon had the understatement of the day:

“Anything can happen (in any race. That’s) why you want that win so bad. Thank God none of the next two are Talladega.”

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Andretti United team names drivers for inaugural Extreme E season

Extreme E drivers Andretti
Extreme E
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The Extreme E team formed by Andretti Autosport and United Autosports named Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen as its drivers Monday for the series’ inaugural 2021 season.

Munnings is a successful veteran of rally series. Hansen is a past winner and champion in the World Rallycross Championship.

They both will race in the environmentally conscious electric SUV series that will hold events in five areas around the world that are threatened by climate change. Chip Ganassi Racing and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton also are fielding cars in Extreme E, which will feature male and female co-drivers on every team.

Catie Munnings

“I’m so excited to join Andretti United Extreme E,” Munnings said in a release. ““I was really intrigued when I first heard about Extreme E, I just knew I had to be involved. The male / female racing partnership is a fantastic and exciting new concept. The season has incredible locations and the racing will be very exciting. It will be a new challenge for the teams and drivers, and I’m so thrilled to be working with such a strong team.

“The championship is a really innovative concept, it’s combining motorsport and science and will produce an important legacy in each race location. Bringing the platform that motorsport has in line with the awareness that the planet needs right now is awesome and a really important message.”

Timmy Hansen

Said Hansen: “Going into the Extreme E will be a new chapter in my career, one that I am extremely excited about. It is something brand new, not only for me, but the whole of motorsport. The format is something

we’ve never seen before. I’m also delighted to be able to carry the message of something bigger – talking about the environment and doing something good for the world – that’s something that really drives me. It’s going to be a big adventure in life to see these locations and I’m going to do my best in carrying this responsibility and hopefully making people aware of the challenges we have in the world, together with our passion for racing.”