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Jimmie Johnson expects Jeff Gordon to be strong at Indy if he runs

LOUDON, N.H. — Don't put anything past Jeff Gordon.

That advice comes from someone who ought to know: Gordon's former teammate and six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup series champion Jimmie Johnson.

Gordon would most likely be pressed into service next weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway if Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s concussion-like symptoms persist beyond today's New Hampshire 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where Alex Bowman is driving the No. 88 Chevrolet in Earnhardt's absence.

Though the Gordon retired after November's season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway — then went into broadcasting — Johnson doesn't think a victory at Indy is out of the question for the 44-year-old.

After all, Gordon is a four-time series champion and a record five-time winner at the Brickyard.

"I've learned to never underestimate that man, without a doubt," Johnson told the NASCAR wire service. "And it's Indy, a place that he loves dearly. He's the most winning driver there.

"I'm sure it will take a few laps to knock the rust off and get going, but there's enough on-track time and the race is long enough that he'll have a shot."

After broadcasting the final race on Fox Sports' portion of the Sprint Cup schedule, Gordon went to France on vacation

"The posts I've seen from him and his wife, they're having a big time over there," Johnson said.

Xfinity: Kyle Busch had an expected result in his unexpected NASCAR start.

Busch led all but a handful of laps and dominated at New Hampshire to win the AutoLotto 200, extending his record for wins in NASCAR's second-tier series to 82.

Busch has 164 career wins across all three of NASCAR's national series, 36 shy of matching Richard Petty's total of 200. Petty, of course, won all 200 in Sprint Cup, plus seven series championships.

Busch topped 17,000 series laps led in his career and was never seriously challenged, pulling away off every restart to hold off second-place Erik Jones.

"I guess they're big numbers," Busch said of his records.

Busch was not scheduled to drive this season at New Hampshire in the No. 18 Toyota. But he was pulled into duty when Joe Gibbs Racing developmental driver Matt Tifft was forced out after surgery last month to have a tumor removed.

IndyCar: Scott Dixon used a fast final lap to snatch the pole from Helio Castroneves in the final seconds in qualifying for today's Indy Toronto. Dixon turned a lap of 59.9073 seconds for his 24th career pole; Castroneves wound up second with a lap of 59.9425 on the temporary downtown street course at Exhibition Place. Points leader Simon Pagenaud qualified third and Will Power was fourth as Team Penske took the three spots behind Dixon. St. Petersburg resident Sebastien Bourdais qualified fifth and Toronto native James Hinchcliffe sixth.

Sprint Cup points

Through 18 of 36 races. The top 16 drivers, based on wins then points, will make the 10-race Chase for the Championship.

Driver PointsBack

Kevin Harvick* 599—

Brad Keselowski**** 595 4

Kurt Busch* 583 16

Carl Edwards** 566 33

Joey Logano* 533 66

Kyle Busch*** 521 78

Martin Truex* 514 85

Chase Elliott 492 107

Jimmie Johnson** 484 115

Matt Kenseth* 477 122

* Wins

Today's race

New Hampshire 301, 1:30 p.m., New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon TV/radio: NBCSN; 102.5-FM

Jimmie Johnson expects Jeff Gordon to be strong at Indy if he runs 07/16/16 [Last modified: Saturday, July 16, 2016 8:27pm]
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