NASCAR: Your guide to Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 400

Gordon thinks back problems long-lasting

Earlier this season, Jeff Gordon developed severe back spasms on the day before the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and missed much of practice. He did compete in the race and finished seventh.

This weekend at Pocono Raceway, Gordon, who has had a history of back problems, was asked whether the issue has flared up again. His answer was somewhat surprising.

“I don’t think my back is ever going to be the same after what happened at Charlotte. I don’t know what exactly transpired there, but it’s not the same. And I have to be much more careful,” said Gordon, who will start fifth in Sunday’s race at Pocono.

“I’m just having to treat it more with ice and steam and be more careful and do more stretching. Is it going to flare up again? It could. But I’m just trying to be more cautious with the things that I do that I feel like contribute to that.”


Townley to be evaluated this week: NASCAR Truck Series driver John Wes Townley sat out both Friday’s ARCA and Saturday’s Truck series races following a hard wreck during ARCA qualifying on Friday.

Townley said he cannot race for seven days and will be evaluated by a Charlotte-area neurologist this week to determine if he can race in next weekend’s ARCA race at Berlin Speedway in Marne, Mich.

Cup series driver Clint Bowyer filled in for Townley in Saturday’s Truck race.

Another Allison winner: Justin Allison, grandson of former NASCAR star Donnie Allison, earned his first victory in the ARCA series in the rain-delayed ModSpace 125 Friday at Pocono.

Justin became the third member of the Allison family to win an ARCA race. The late Davey Allison won eight times and Bobby Allison once.

“It’s pretty cool to win here,” Justin said. “The Allisons have a lot of history at this track.”

Johnson to co-host TV show: On Wednesday, Jimmie Johnson will be a guest co-host on HLN’s “Morning Express with Robin Meade,” discussing NASCAR racing and the upcoming Cup series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The show airs 6-10 a.m. each weekday.

Three things to watch

1 Kasey Kahne, the defending race winner, has two career wins at Pocono and was runner-up two years ago.

2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. is looking to complete the season sweep at Pocono – something only six other drivers have done.

3 Rookie Kyle Larson starts from the pole and is coming off a seventh-place finish last week in Indianapolis and a third-place finish two weeks before in New Hampshire.


•  It seems extremely repetitive, and it likely will for a very long time, but Cup series rookie Kyle Larson continues to impress each and every week. No one disputed Larson is a superb driving talent, but his ability to adapt to NASCAR competition so quickly – which is not what he was brought up on – is uncanny. No matter the vehicle and except for a handful of venues, Larson looks to be a threat. You can’t say that about a lot of drivers.

•  Couldn’t think of a better way for NASCAR veteran Mark Martin to wind down his NASCAR career than back working the organization with which he found the bulk of his success. There are several young drivers at Roush Fenway Racing who could definitely benefit from Martin’s wisdom, both in how he conducted himself on the track during his career and off. It seems appropriate Martin should play a role in forging Roush’s future.

•  Jeff Gordon’s win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was also his 445th career top-10 finish in the Cup Series, which is fourth all time. Conceivably, Gordon could reach 454 top 10s by season’s end, which would put him second all-time. The current leader is Richard Petty (712).

Best bets

Three picks for your fantasy team:

Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson