Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Jeff Gordon ready to take on 'Track Too Tough To Tame' again

Jeff Gordon has seven NASCAR Sprint Cup victories at Darlington Raceway, third all time.

Jeff Gordon has seven NASCAR Sprint Cup victories at Darlington Raceway, third all time.

DARLINGTON, S.C. — Jeff Gordon had long planned to be at Darlington Raceway this weekend, largely to greet fans and answer questions about his career as a four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion.

Gordon now has a bigger job as a fill-in driver for injured Dale Earnhardt Jr.: win tonight's Southern 500 and lead the Hendrick Motorsports team into the Chase for the Championship.

And there might be no better place for Gordon's experience to shine than Darlington, where he's third all time with seven victories.

"It's a track that I'm comfortable on and that I like," he said last week. "I hope I can put that with a result that this team deserves."

It has been a whirlwind summer for Gordon, 45, who was settling into post-Sprint Cup life after retiring at the end of 2015.

Gordon enjoyed his role as a NASCAR broadcaster this season, and his quality time with wife Ingrid Vandebosch and children, Ella, 9, and Leo, 6.

"It was balancing out really nicely, all going according to plan," he said.

But team owner and friend Rick Hendrick asked Gordon to return to the No. 88 car after Earnhardt was sidelined in July with concussion symptoms. Earnhardt announced Friday that he's out for the season.

Now Gordon is back at "The Track Too Tough To Tame," the 1.333-mile egg-shaped oval where only David Pearson (10 wins) and the late Dale Earnhardt (nine) won more.

"First time all year I have some valuable notes about the package and what the car should be like," Gordon said. "I'm hoping that can help me get up to speed and help the team."

Chase at a glance

The 10-race Chase for the Championship starts Sept. 18 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Clinched (in order of seed)

Four wins: Brad Keselowski (774 points), Kyle Busch (696)

Two wins: Kevin Harvick (799), Carl Edwards (724), Denny Hamlin (691), Jimmie Johnson (648), Matt Kenseth (633)

One win: Kurt Busch (721), Joey Logano (716), Martin Truex (652), Kyle Larson (582), Tony Stewart (420)

Needs to stay in top 30 in points (one win): Chris Buescher (30th, 334)

Contenders

In as points stand: Chase Elliott (628), Austin Dillon (622), Jamie McMurray (616)

Outside looking in: Ryan Newman (601), Kasey Kahne (564), Trevor Bayne (558), Ryan Blaney (545), AJ Allmendinger (544)

Sprint Cup points

Through 24 of 36 races.

Driver Pts Back

Kevin Harvick** 799—

Brad Keselowski**** 774 25

Carl Edwards** 724 75

Kurt Busch* 721 78

Joey Logano* 716 83

Kyle Busch**** 696 103

Denny Hamlin** 691 108

Martin Truex* 652 147

Jimmie Johnson** 648 151

Matt Kenseth** 633 166

* Wins

Tonight's race

Southern 500, 6, Darlington (S.C.) Raceway

TV/radio: Ch. 8; 102.5-FM

Jeff Gordon ready to take on 'Track Too Tough To Tame' again 09/03/16 [Last modified: Saturday, September 3, 2016 8:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs have chance to beat Vikings in their third stadium

    Bucs

    Here's a cool sign that the Bucs are getting up there as an NFL franchise: If Tampa Bay can win Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, it will mark the first time the Bucs have posted road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.

    TIMES ARCHIVES (2012) | Bucs RB Doug Martin runs during Tampa Bay's 36-17 win at the Vikings in 2012, in what was then called Mall of America Field. If Tampa Bay wins Sunday, it will mark the first time they have road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.
  2. NFL commissioner, players' union angrily denounce Trump comments on national anthem

    Bucs

    SOMERSET, N.J. — The National Football League and its players' union on Saturday angrily denounced President Donald Trump for suggesting that owners fire players who kneel during the national …

    President Donald Trump walks off the stage after he speaks at campaign rally in support of Sen. Luther Strange, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. [Associated Press]
  3. Matt Peca making case for Lightning spot

    Blogs

    Center Matt Peca said he didn't read too much into the fact he was the only Lightning player to appear in each of the first three exhibition games.

    But Peca, 24, loved it.

    Matt Peca won nine of 10 faceoffs Friday, a skill the Lightning badly needs.
  4. Bucs players respond to Trump comments on anthem protests

    Blogs

    President Donald Trump shared his thoughts Friday night on NFL players protesting during the national anthem, suggesting that NFL owners should "fire" players who kneel during the anthem in protest. His remarks are alreading drawing responses from many NFL players, including some Bucs.

    Bucs players Mike Evans and Jameis Winston stand with coach Dirk Koetter during the national anthem in a game played in San Diego last season.
  5. Rays morning after: Wilson Ramos showing glimpses of what's possible in 2018

    Blogs

    The real payoff for the Rays signing C Wilson Ramos last off-season will come in 2018, when he can play a full season fully recovered from right knee surgery.

    Catcher Wilson Ramos connects for a two-run single in the fifth inning against the Cubs on Sept. 20, 2017.