Jeff Gordon: M’ville penalty, not Texas run-in with Keselowski, hurt title hopes the most

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After Jeff Gordon’s elimination from the Chase for the Sprint Cup with one race to go in the 2014 season, many of his fans have cited his late-race contact with Brad Keselowski at Texas as the moment where his “Drive For Five” was derailed.

And while Gordon was ruing the Texas incident in the immediate aftermath of his elimination, the NASCAR icon now apparently finds himself haunted not by that race, but another.

In the Eliminator Round opener at Martinsville Speedway, Gordon was leading after a round of stops under caution at Lap 188 only to be penalized for speeding on pit lane.

The four-time Cup champ fought back valiantly to finish second behind winner and teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., but if not for that penalty, Gordon may have scored the win that would have propelled him into the Championship 4 for the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Instead, Gordon finished 29th at Texas after his run-in with Keselowski, which caused him to suffer a tire failure that eventually led to you-know-what.

One week later, he was then knocked out in the Eliminator finale at Phoenix after Ryan Newman shoved Kyle Larson aside to finish 11th and beat Gordon for the final transfer spot to the championship race by one point.

“The incident at Texas got obviously intense and lot of drama and led to more than I wish it ever led to,” Gordon said per Dustin Long of MRN. “I’ve put more attention on the mistake that I made at Martinsville on pit road.

“I think that would have given us as good or better chance of winning that race to move us on to Homestead as the incident at Texas. What I did at Martinsville, that was a big mistake.”

Gordon’s elimination from the Chase put a damper on an otherwise successful season for him and the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team. Carrying momentum from their strong 2013 Chase, Gordon scored four victories (including a fifth career triumph in his beloved Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis) to fuel a late-career renaissance.

Still, even though he’s surely feeling confident in regards to the big picture after a strong 2014, it would seem that not being able to compete for the title gave Gordon some pause.

“You have to move on,” he added to MRN. “You have to learn from it. You have to let go. It’s not easy. I’m fairly good at moving past things like that. It depends on the sting.

“Some take longer than others and that was a big sting…”

IMSA race at Daytona: How to watch, start times, schedule, TV info, more

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IMSA start times: For the first time in more than five months, Daytona International Speedway will have a sports car race as the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Series returns to the same place it left off today (6 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

After being sidelined by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic since the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January, the premier sports car circuit will wave the green again on its 2020 season today. But instead of the annual 24-hour endurance classic, Saturday’s WeatherTech 240 will be a “sprint race” around the 3.56-mile road course.

Here are the details for IMSA’s second race of the season at Daytona (all times are ET):


IMSA WeatherTech 240 at Daytona race information

TV: 6 p.m. NBCSN, NBC Sports App and TrackPass

RADIO: IMSA Radio will have live radio coverage throughout the weekend on IMSARadio.com, as well as Sirius Channel 216, XM 210, Internet 970

RACE DISTANCE: Two hours, 40 minutes around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway

FORECAST: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 88 degrees with a 51% chance of rain at the green flag.

ENTRY LIST: Click here to see the 26 cars entered in Saturday’s race.


IMSA weekend schedule: Friday, July 3

11 a.m. — WeatherTech Championship Transporter Load-In

1 p.m. — Garages open; pit lane equipment setup

6:15-7:15 p.m. — First practice WeatherTech Championship (all classes)

9:30 p.m. — Garages close

IMSA weekend schedule: Saturday, July 4

8 a.m. — Garages open

8:45 a.m. — Fuel rig inspection

10:15 a,m — 11:30 am — Practice (restricted by classes: 10:15-10:45 a.m., GTD Silver/Bronze; 10:30-11:30 a.m., DPi/GTLM; 10:45-11:15, GTD all drivers)

1:55 p.m. — GTD qualifying

2:20 p.m. — GTLM qualifying

2:45 p.m. — DPi qualifying

6 p.m. — Formation laps

6:10 p.m. — IMSA WeatherTech 240 at Daytona (2 hours, 40 minutes)

11:30 p.m. — Garages close