NASCAR: AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway preview

Gordon has many reasons to be hungry

He hasn’t won a Sprint Cup series title since 2001. He’s never won a title under the Chase format. And his crew chief, Alan Gustafson, has never won a NASCAR championship.

Jeff Gordon has many reasons to be hungry for an elusive fifth series championship this season, but the most important to him is not wanting to squander an opportunity that may not come again.

“What I’m hungry the most about is just knowing that I’ve got a great car and a great team that’s capable of winning this championship,” said Gordon, who leads the Chase standings. “And being in the position we’re in, and knowing that Alan had never a championship. And how hard he works and how good this team is.

“The primary motivation is just know that we’re good enough to do it and having that confidence to go out there and execute.”


Sauter patriarch dies: Jim Sauter, a racer and father of four drivers who have competed in NASCAR, died Friday after a brief illness. He was 71.

Sauter competed in 82 NASCAR national series races from 1980 to 2004, including 76 starts in the Cup series. The native of Necedah, Wisc., made his final NASCAR start in the 2002 Nationwide race at Milwaukee, where he competed against his sons Jay, Johnny and Tim.

Johnny Sauter is a fulltime competitor in the Truck series. He was notified of his father’s death following Friday night’s race at Texas.

Toyota claims Trucks manufacturer title: Tundra driver Kyle Busch’s victory at Texas enabled Toyota to clinch its seventh manufacturer’s championship in 11 years in the series.

Toyota drivers established a new series record by winning the first 10 races of the year – from Daytona in February to Eldora in July – and a 12-race winning streak dating back to 2013.

Practice update: Jimmie Johnson led the way in Saturday’s final Cup practice session with an average lap speed of 193.791 mph. Ryan Newman was second-fastest, Paul Menard third, Joey Logano fourth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. fifth. Carl Edwards was fastest in Saturday’s first practice.

Three things to watch

1 Kevin Harvick is making his 500th start in the Sprint Cup Series. He has never won at Texas Motor Speedway.

2 Joey Logano won the spring race at Texas and he and Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski have won five of nine races this season on 1.5-mile tracks.

3 Matt Kenseth, who starts on the pole, boasts the most top-five (13) and top-10 (17) finishes all-time at Texas.


•  Lots of discussion about the possibility of Ryan Newman or Matt Kenseth winning the championship without a victory. Statistically, it’s very unlikely. The four drivers who compete for the championship at Homestead, Fla, all begin the race with 0 points. So, to win the title, a driver would have to outrun the other three. Newman only outran Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano – the other drivers who would compete for the title today – twice this season in 33 races. Kenseth has outrun Gordon, Newman and Logano only seven times.

•  Formula One goes head-to-head with NASCAR Sunday, as F1 is competing at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Is it a great idea to have two large motorsports events on the same day just hours apart? Probably not, but in all honesty I don’t believe the fan bases overlap a great deal. There is probably larger interest among the NASCAR drivers about what transpires in Austin this weekend.

•  Many of the tracks hosting races in this season’s Chase have seen increased ticket sales over last year. Texas appears headed in that direction as well.

Best bets

Three picks for your fantasy team:

Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman