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Jeff Gordon's balky back threatens Sprint Cup starts streak

CONCORD, N.C. — This is not how Jeff Gordon envisioned celebrating the 20th anniversary of his first Sprint Cup victory.

After 11 laps in Saturday morning's first practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Gordon stopped because of back spasms that endanger his streak of 736 consecutive starts, the longest ever to start a career.

"Unfortunately, I had a back spasm the other night in that last qualifying run I made and I've been trying to get it worked out by today and I got in the car and it just wasn't," Gordon said.

Gordon and his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team sat out final practice and Nationwide series driver Regan Smith will stand by as a relief driver for today's Coca-Cola 600.

"I've had some spasms in the past, but this one is a little bit different," Gordon, 42, said. He trails only Ricky Rudd, who started 788 consecutive Cup races from 1981-2005.

Larson takes Nationwide: Kyle Larson earned his second Nationwide series victory of the season, holding off Sprint Cup drivers Brad Kese­lowski and Kyle Busch at to take the History 300 at Charlotte. Larson, 21, passed Keselowski on Lap 118 of 200 and led the rest of the way.

Keselowski was second, followed by Busch, Kevin Harvick and Brian Scott. Larson's win came on car owner Chip Ganassi's 56th birthday.

Bayne full-time: Trevor Bayne, who won the 2011 Daytona 500 but still awaited a full-time Sprint Cup ride, will get one in 2015. Bayne will drive the No. 6 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing next season. "This is obviously the biggest news I've ever had in my life," said Bayne, 23.

Formula One: Nico Rosberg took the pole for today's Grand Prix of Monaco ahead of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton after making a late error that left Hamilton irate. With less than a minute left in qualifying Rosberg slid down an escape road, then backed out on the circuit. That brought out a yellow flag, ending the session and preventing Hamilton, who starts second, from moving up.

NHRA: Brittany Force (Top Fuel) and Courtney Force (Funny Car) became the first sisters to earn No. 1 qualifying positions at the same event at the Kansas Nationals in Topeka. Brittany had a career-best time of 3.746 seconds at a track-record 329.75 mph; Courtney set track records at 4.009, 322.96. Their father, 65-year-old John Force, qualified second in Funny Car. Vincent Nobile led Pro Stock.

Fan death: Authorities said an argument preceded the shooting death of Max Levine, 25, of Kokomo, Ind., in a parking lot near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. One person is in custody. Levine was shot early Saturday morning, Speedway Police Lt. Trent Theobald said in a news release. There was a person in custody, but police did not provide further information.

Jeff Gordon's balky back threatens Sprint Cup starts streak 05/24/14 [Last modified: Saturday, May 24, 2014 9:37pm]
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