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Jeff Gordon retaining youthful enthusiasm

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — At any age, Jeff Gordon sure knows how to win.

Nearly two decades after he burst onto the scene with his first Sprint Cup victory, Gordon keeps taking checkered flags.

Gordon, 42, stormed to the lead in the final laps in Saturday's 5-hour Energy 400 at Kansas Speedway for his first victory of the season and 89th career, all but clinching a spot in NASCAR's Chase for the Championship. Wins will put drivers in the 16-car Chase as long as they attempt to qualify for each race and are in the top 30 in points after 26 races. But there's one caveat — Gordon is the ninth driver to win in the first 11 races this season, and if more than 16 drivers win in the first 26 races they won't all make the Chase.

"I'm just so proud of (the team). They have been giving me the best race cars all year long," Gordon said. "I have been having so much fun. I'm going to be 43 this year and I feel like I'm 25 again. That is the way they make me feel."

Gordon is two weeks from the 20th anniversary of his first career Cup win at Charlotte Motor Speedway, in the Coca-Cola 600.

At Daytona this year, Gordon insisted he was serious about considering retirement if he earns a fifth championship. He looks every bit a title contender — but now says he feels like he could race until 50 if his cars are this stout.

"The whole retirement thing I think is thrown out too much," he said. "I know I'm somewhat to blame for that."

Meanwhile, Danica Patrick had her best career Sprint Cup finish at Kansas, coming in seventh after starting ninth and running in the top 10 most of the night. "I know that we haven't had the best of times, but we work hard for it," she said. "This is the kind of stuff that materializes in wins."

She also passed six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson on a late restart.

"That was probably my most rewarding thing of the night," Patrick said. "I say that with all the respect in the world. It's a big deal because he is Jimmie Johnson."

Sara Christian's fifth-place finish in a 1949 is the best for a woman in NASCAR's top series.

Formula One: Lewis Hamilton won the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona for his career-high fourth straight victory — with Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg second all four times. Hamilton (100 points) took the series lead from Rosberg (97), who got within less than a second in the final lap.

IndyCar: Roger Penske's trio of Will Power, Juan Montoya and Helio Castroneves swept the top of the speed chart on the first day of Indianapolis 500 practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Power posted a fast lap of 223.057 mph on the 2½-mile oval followed by Montoya (222.502) and Castroneves (222.373). NASCAR star Kurt Busch was 12th at 220.352 hours after arriving from Kansas Speedway, where he raced in Saturday night's Sprint Cup race.

East Bay Raceway: Dave Schmauss won the 25-lap Late Model feature in Gibsonton.

Jeff Gordon retaining youthful enthusiasm 05/11/14 [Last modified: Sunday, May 11, 2014 9:51pm]

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