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NASCAR's Jeff Gordon, 3 others nominated for state racing award

Gordon

Four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon was among four candidates nominated for this year's Justice Brothers-Shav Glick Award, given to those who have made distinguished contributions to motor racing in California.

Gordon, a native of Vallejo, not only won four titles in what is now NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, he also is third in career Cup wins with 85 behind Richard Pettty (200) and David Pearson (105).

The other nominees are Tommy Ivo, a child TV star who became a successful drag racer and member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame; A.J. Watson, longtime Indianapolis 500 car builder and chief mechanic; and Tony Adamowicz, a sports-car driver who raced from the 1960s through the 1980s.

The winner will be announced March 25 at the NASCAR race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.

The award is named after sponsor Justice Brothers, a maker of auto-care products, and the late Los Angeles Times motor racing writer Shav Glick, himself a member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Past winners include Dan Gurney, Rick Mears, John Force and Don Prudhomme.

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Photo: NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon at the Super Bowl last Sunday in Indianapolis. Credit: Tannen Maury/EPA

NASCAR's Rick Hendrick breaks four ribs in plane incident

NASCAR's Rick Hendrick broke four ribs and his clavicle when his team's business jet made a hard landing in Key West, Fla.
NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick broke four ribs and his clavicle when his team's business jet made a hard landing in Key West, Fla., Hendrick Motorsports said in an update Wednesday.

Hendrick, 62, was admitted to a medical facility near his home in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday "due to discomfort from the injuries" but was expected to be released by the end of the week, the team said.

Hendrick Motorsports, based in Concord, N.C., initially said Hendrick broke one rib and his clavicle when the Gulfstream G150 ran off the runway at Key West International Airport on Monday night due to unspecified "braking issues."

Hendrick's wife, Linda, sustained "minor cuts and bruises" in the incident, and the plane's two pilots were not injured, the team said. All four were taken to Lower Keys Medical Center and later released.

"Linda and I have been overwhelmed by all the words of encouragement and genuine concern we've received," Hendrick said in a statement.

"I'm so proud of how our pilots handled the situation, and we're extremely appreciative of the folks in Key West who went above and beyond to help us," he said.

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Photo: Federal investigators Tuesday inspect the airplane that skidded off the runway at Key West (Fla.) International Airport on Monday night, injuring NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick and his wife. Credit: Ron O'Neal / Key West Citizen / Associated Press

NASCAR's Rick Hendrick breaks collarbone, rib in hard landing

NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick suffered a broken clavicle and rib, and his wife Linda had cuts and bruises, in the hard landing of their team's business jet Monday night in Key West, Fla., Hendrick Motorsports said in an updated statement Tuesday.

RickThe team initially said only there were no serious injuries when the Gulfstream G150 ran off the runway at Key West International Airport because of braking problems when it was landing.

A photograph released by the Monroe County sheriff's office showed the jet intact after it came to a stop, but with one wing partially submerged in a body of water.

The Hendricks and the two pilots aboard the plane were taken to Lower Keys Medical Center and released, the team said. "All four have safely returned to North Carolina," the team said.

Hendrick, 62, is one of the most successful owners in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. His drivers are reigning champion Jimmie Johnson, four-time champion Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin.

"It was a real big scare. Very frightening to hear," Earnhardt told reporters in Las Vegas, where he was attending the annual SEMA show, which showcases specialty automotive equipment, according to Associated Press. "I'm very glad that he and everybody appears to be OK."

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Photo: Rick Hendrick before a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Alabama's Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 23. Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt / Associated Press

NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick, wife OK after plane crash

A Gulfstream jet carrying Rick Hendrick, one of NASCAR's most successful team owners, and his wife ran off a runway in Key West, Fla., but there were no serious injuries

A Gulfstream jet carrying Rick Hendrick, one of NASCAR's most successful team owners, his wife Linda and two pilots ran off a runway in Key West, Fla., on Monday night but "there were no serious injuries," Hendrick Motorsports said.

The G150 jet was "experiencing brake issues upon landing at Key West International Airport," the team said, adding that all four people aboard "were taken to a local hospital for evaluation."

"Hendrick Motorsports is gathering additional information on the incident," the team said.

Four of the leading drivers in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series drive for Hendrick: Reigning champion Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin.

The incident occurred seven years after Hendrick's 24-year-old son, Ricky, Hendrick's brother John and two of Hendrick's nieces, along with six others, were killed when their small plane crashed on the way a race in Martinsville, Va.

-- Jim Peltz

Photo: The Gulfstream aircraft carrying Rick Hendrick and his wife after it ran off the runway Monday night in Key West, Fla. Credit: Evan Calhoun / Monroe County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office / Associated Press

NASCAR's Jeff Gordon on Dan Wheldon crash: 'Big changes coming'

There are likely "big changes coming" to the IndyCar series after the death of Dan Wheldon in a massive 15-car crash in Las Vegas, NASCAR stock-car driver Jeff Gordon said.

Wheldon, a two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, suffered fatal injuries when his car struck another, then went airborne and crashed into the outside catch fence and wall in a race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday.

WheldonwedCritics have questioned whether the race posed inordinate risks because 34 cars were traveling close together at 220 mph or faster on the relatively small 1.5-mile Las Vegas track, which also has banked corners.

"Under the current conditions, I wouldn't say that the cars are safe enough to race on those types of high-banked, 1.5-mile race tracks," Gordon, a four-time champion in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, told reporters on a conference call Tuesday.

"I think between the owners, the drivers in that series, you'll see some big changes coming," Gordon said. "What those changes will be, I'm not sure. Obviously, under current conditions you can't climb a wheel [of another car] at 200-plus mph and get airborne and not expect there to be serious consequences."

Gordon's teammate Jimmie Johnson, the reigning Sprint Cup champion, said Monday that IndyCar should not race on ovall tracks for safety reasons, a viewpoint later rebuked by legendary Indy 500 winners A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti.

The Izod IndyCar Series said Tuesday that it launched an investigation into the factors surrounding Sunday's accident.

Gordon's comments came ahead of Sunday's NASCAR race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, another high-banked track but one that's more than one mile longer than Las Vegas at 2.66 miles.

The stock cars also weigh about 3,400 pounds compared with 1,560 pounds for the aerodynamic IndyCar vehicles.

But there have been a few times when stock cars -- which unlike Indy-style cars have fenders and roofs -- still have gotten airborne at Talladega, which prompted NASCAR to cap the cars' speeds at less than 200 mph on tracks such as Talladega.

"That's the key, keeping the cars on the ground," Gordon said. "An open-wheel car at that speed, it's difficult to do. I think between that and the catch fences for those types of cars, it's something that is seriously going to need to be looked at."

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Photo: A makeshift memorial for Dan Wheldon outside Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where the driver suffered fatal injuries in a crash Sunday. Credit: Robert Laberge / Getty Images

NASCAR's Chase leads weekend's motor racing

A bit of controversy hangs over the start of NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup, the 10-race championship playoff that opens Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.

Jimmie Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, with four wins apiece in the Sprint Cup Series so far this season, lead the 12 drivers in the Chase with 2,012 points each. Four-time champion Jeff Gordon follows with 2,009.

Harvick won last week’s race in Richmond, Va., after his Richard Childress Racing teammate Paul Menard spun out late in the race to bring out a caution flag. Harvick then beat Gordon off pit road and held off Gordon for the victory.

Gordon later said the timing of Menard’s spinout was “a little fishy,” and NASCAR President Mike Helton said the sanctioning body would look into it.

But team owner Richard Childress said in a statement Friday “there were no team orders” given to Menard to spin to help Harvick's cause and that Menard “wouldn’t have spun out on purpose even if he had been asked.”

Jimmie Johnson, aiming for a record sixth consecutive title, also is back in the Chase along with 2004 champion Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch’s older brother.

Johnson and Kurt Busch have had a running feud in recent weeks, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- another Chase contender and teammate of Johnson's at Hendrick Motorsports-- was asked Friday if he was curious about how the Johnson-Busch spat might play out this weekend.

“It bores the [expletive] out of me, to be honest,” Earnhardt said. “I’ve got my own damn problems to worry about.”

The Izod IndyCar Series, meanwhile, is racing Sunday for the final time at the Twin Ring Motegi track in Japan, where Danica Patrick won her only IndyCar event in 2008. Patrick is moving to NASCAR stock-car racing next year.

With three races left in the season, the IndyCar championship is coming down to a battle between current point leader Dario Franchitti, who is shooting for his third consecutive championship and fourth overall, and Team Penske’s Will Power, who is only five points behind Franchitti and seeking his first title.

In drag racing, the six-race title playoff in the National Hot Rod Assn.’s Full Throttle Series opens this weekend with the O’Reilly Auto Parts Nationals in Charlotte, N.C.

Del Worsham currently leads the NHRA’s top-fuel class by 30 points over Antron Brown, and Mike Neff leads the funny car division by 30 points over Jack Beckman. The series finale is Nov. 10-13 at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.

And on Saturday night, late-model stock cars make their last appearance of the season as part of a multi-race lineup at the half-mile Toyota Speedway at Irwindale. Brandon Davis of Huntington Beach currently leads the point standings in that series.

The Formula One series is off this weekend ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix on Sept. 25.

--Jim Peltz

Photo: NASCAR drivers Jimmie Johnson, left, and Jeff Gordon take in the sights of Chicago ahead of Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway that opens NASCAR's Chase title playoff. Credit: David Banks/Getty Images

 

Jeff Gordon can't change a tire to save his life

NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon stars in a new commercial, and Pepsi has supplied Fab Forum readers with a sneak preview.

Gordon, driver of the #24 Pepsi MAX / Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, is put on special assignment in the new ad, helping to deliver an emergency supply of Pepsi Max to Daytona just in time for the Coke Zero 400 on Saturday. A Pepsi commerical for a race sponsored by Coke? What's next, the Lakers and Celtics merging?

Teaming up with Jeff is Max, the irreverent Pepsi Max truck driver. The two are at odds from the start: Jeff’s excited to hit the open road for a big road trip, but Max is less than thrilled to have a co-pilot.

And whatever you do, don't miss the part where Jeff Gordon tries to change a tire. Let's start the campaign now: Jeff Gordon for "SNL" host.

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Joey Logano wins pole position for NASCAR race in Sonoma

Logano

Joey Logano hustled his No. 20 Toyota around the 10-turn Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., faster than anyone else Friday to win the pole position for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

The driver for Joe Gibbs Racing turned a lap of 93.256 mph on the 1.99-mile track nestled in the hillsides of Sonoma's wine country.

Jamie McMurray was second at 93.223 mph and will start alongside Logano on the first row in the Toyota/Save Mart 350.

Jimmie Johnson, the reigning Cup champion and defending winner of the race, qualified 12th and Dale Earnhardt Jr., his teammate at Hendrick Motorsports, was 18th.

"We made some good adjustments [after practice] and found good speed in the car," said Logano, who by his own admission is more capable on ovals than twisty road courses such as Infineon. "This is the last place I figured we'd get a pole."

Five-time Sonoma winner Jeff Gordon qualified 13th in the 43-car field, Logano teammate Kyle Busch will start 19th and Carl Edwards, who leads the Cup point standings, qualified 23rd.

The race begins at noon PDT on Sunday.

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Photo: NASCAR driver Joey Logano in practice Friday before winning the pole for Sunday's race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Credit: Ben Margot/Associated Press

Jeff Gordon wants you to pick his brain

2011 Pocono June NSCS Jeff Gordon Victory LaneNASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jeff Gordon is taking your questions. Some of them he will answer via video on the Bosch Spark Plugs Facebook page.

Fans can submit questions via Facebook until June 30.

The four-time Sprint Cup Series champ won at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania on June 12. It was his record-tying fifth Cup win at Pocono.

Go to Haddock in the Paddock to see what some fans have already asked him.

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Photo: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jeff Gordon, winner of the race at Pocono Raceway two weekends ago, is taking questions from fans via the Bosch Spark Plugs Facebook page. (Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

NASCAR's Jeff Gordon wins at Phoenix, snaps 66-race winless streak

Jeff-gordon_325 Jeff Gordon chased down Kyle Busch, passed him for the lead with eight laps left and won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, snapping Gordon's 66-race winless drought.

With this first trip to Victory Lane since April 2009, Gordon, the four-time Cup champion who turns 40 in August, also tied Cale Yarborough for fifth on the all-time Cup career wins list with 83.

Gordon's No. 24 Chevrolet, prepared by the Hendrick Motorsports team, was strong throughout the Subway Fresh Fit 500. But Busch -- who was hoping for a sweep this weekend after winning the NASCAR trucks and Nationwide series races -- gained the lead after a late caution period.

Gordon was four seconds behind but steadily closed the gap with Busch, who said after the race that "I knew [Gordon] was going to get to me eventually. He was on a mission today."

Jimmie Johnson, the reigning Cup champion and Gordon's teammate, finished third and Kevin Harvick was fourth.

They were among the survivors after several accidents earlier in the race, including one that collected 13 driversand another that knocked out Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne.

Another accident was triggered when Busch abruptly veered into pole-sitter Carl Edwards, which sent Edwards' Ford to the garage for lengthy repairs. Edwards finished 28th.

--Jim Peltz, reporting from Avondale, Ariz.

Photo: Jeff Gordon celebrates his NASCAR Sprint Cup victory Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway. Credit: Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press

NASCAR's Martin Truex Jr. leads Daytona 500 at halfway point

Truex_600

Martin Truex Jr. led the Daytona 500 at the halfway point of the 200-lap race after an early multi-car crash ruined the chances of several of the leading drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

But several other drivers were less than one second behind Truex in the series' season opener at Daytona International Speedway, including Carl Edwards, Juan Pablo Montoya and his teammate and defending Daytona 500 winner, Jamie McMurray.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was running 14th but was only two seconds behind the leader.

Californian Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton, his teammate at Richard Childress Racing, both were knocked out of the race with blown engines. Harvick won the Daytona 500 in 2007.

This year's Daytona 500 was unlike any other, owing mainly to the track being repaved during the off-season. Teams discovered that two cars, and only two cars, drafting nose to tail on the new, smooth surface was the fastest way to get around the high-banked speedway.

As a result, the leaders were bunched in two-car pairs as opposed to the multi-car packs that were the trademark at Daytona in previous years.

But the big pack of cars still prevailed in the middle of the field, and several contenders running in midpack lost their chance to win the 500 when they were part of the 14-car crash on Lap 29.

The drivers involved included reigning Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and his teammates Jeff Gordon -- a three-time Daytona 500 winner -- along with Brian Vickers, Michael Waltrip and his teammate David Reutimann.

Johnson and Gordon returned the race after repairs but were several laps behind the leaders.

-- Jim Peltz, reporting from Daytona Beach, Fla.

Photo: Martin Truex Jr. in the No. 56 Toyota is followed by Carl Edwards in the No. 99 Ford during the Daytona 500 on Sunday. Credit: Jerry Lai / US Presswire

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