NASCAR: Tony Stewart tweets offer to have Jeff Gordon race at 2016 Mudsummer Classic


Jeff Gordon may have announced that 2015 will be his final full Sprint Cup season. But the four-time Cup champ also has said that he may possibly choose to compete in other series.

“I want to leave myself open, as well, to be able to get in a car,” Gordon said in a NASCAR teleconference on Thursday. “It doesn’t have to be a Cup car. It could be an [XFINITY] car. It could be a truck. It could be a prototype for Le Mans or the Rolex. It might not be any of those things – heck, I was just out in the desert driving buggies and I maybe want to do the Baja 1000.”

With that in mind, three-time Cup champ and Eldora Speedway owner Tony Stewart has tweeted an offer for Gordon to compete in the 2016 running of the Mudsummer Classic – which takes place at Eldora and has arguably become the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ signature event.

The ‘Norm’ that Stewart speaks of is veteran driver Norm Benning, who thrilled NASCAR fans in 2013 with his run into the Mudsummer Classic’s main event from the last chance qualifier.

Stewart ultimately bought Benning’s Eldora LCQ truck, which is seen getting a re-numbering to Gordon’s famous No. 24 in the photo above.

Still, we figure Gordon would have a new truck if he were to accept such an offer – which isn’t as crazy as it seems if you know of Gordon’s early career on dirt in sprint cars.

Gordon won back-to-back USAC titles in 1990 (Midget) and 1991 (Silver Crown); during that 1991 season, he also won at Eldora’s prestigious 4-Crown Nationals event in a midget. More recently, Gordon has competed at Eldora as part of its former all-star charity race, the Prelude to the Dream.

It also bears noting that Gordon has never competed in a Truck Series event. To check off that box in such a popular race – and with no pressure at all since his Cup days will be over – may be something that appeals to him.

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images

Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.