Danica Patrick

Kansas winner Jeff Gordon still a NASCAR contender after 20 years

Through the Gears: Four things we learned at Kansas
The four things we learned after Jeff Gordon's win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' 5-Hour Energy 400 at Kansas Speedway.

Twenty years. That’s how long it’s been, on May 29, since Jeff Gordon won his first NASCAR Cup Series race at the ripe old age of 22. One of the first to do so well, so young, Gordon encapsulated the perfect mix of talent, speed, sponsorship and confidence cloaked in invincibility. Four titles in a seven-year span had many pegging him as the man to knock off Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt atop the Cup championship ladder.

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NASCAR Frankendriver

Hamlin gets NASCAR season on track with win at Talladega

Through the Gears: Four things we learned at Talladega
Denny Hamlin got his season on track with a win in NASCAR's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.

As an unproven rookie in 2006, restrictor plate racing put Denny Hamlin on the map. A victory in the Bud Shootout, NASCAR’s exhibition to open the season, proved the catalyst for a freshman phenom who wound up third in the final point standings. It was the start of seven straight Chase appearances, annual flirtations with the series championship and a seemingly lifetime contract to sit inside the No. 11 FedEx Toyota.  Denny Hamlin

NASCAR's Bonehead Moves of the Chase Era

Exclusive Q&A with NASCAR Rookie Justin Allgaier

Rookie Report: Allgaier talks aggressive racing, dirt vs. asphalt and a failed Roush tryout
An exclusive Q&A session with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie Justin Allgaier.

Welcome to the Athlon Rookie Report, where each week David Smith will evaluate the deepest crop of new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series talent since 2006. The Report will include twice-monthly rankings, in-depth analysis, Q&A sessions with the drivers, and more.

Following the race last Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, rookie Justin Allgaier, driver of the No. 51 Brandt Chevrolet SS for HScott Motorsports sat down with David for an extended interview. What follows is an edited transcript of their chat.

Keselowski feuds with race-winner Kurt Busch at Martinsville

Through the Gears: Four things we learned at Martinsville Speedway
NASCAR drivers Brad Keselowski and eventual race-winner Kurt Busch feuded in a physical STP 400 at Martinsville Speedway.

Four years ago, Brad Keselowski was young and unproven, a newbie on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit trying to build a winning reputation at Team Penske. Kurt Busch served as incumbent, wheeling the No. 2 Miller Lite car Keselowski would one day inherit, paired with the cache of a series title and one of the few drivers to openly joust with Jimmie Johnson. The two — Keselowski and Busch — formed a bond as teammates built on mutual respect for their independent styles that lasted even after Busch was canned in late 2011.

Martinsville: Danica Patrick's opportunity to show progress

Geoffrey Miller's five things to watch at Martinsville Speedway
Geoffrey Miller’s “Five Things to Watch” will help you catch up on the biggest stories of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ upcoming race weekend. This week, NASCAR’s officiating errors, the return of the Truck Series, Danica’s progress, Hendrick’s dominance and Matt Kenseth’s Martinsville improvement highlight the major topics leading us into Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

Each week, Geoffrey Miller’s “Five Things to Watch” will help you catch up on the biggest stories of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ upcoming race weekend. This week, NASCAR’s officiating errors, the return of the Truck Series, Danica’s progress, Hendrick’s dominance and Matt Kenseth’s Martinsville improvement highlight the major topics leading us into Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

Keselowski, Earnhardt surge, but NASCAR's season long and unpredictable

Through the Gears: Four things we learned in Las Vegas
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski flex muscles in NASCAR's weekend in Las Vegas for the Kobalt Tools 400.

Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran 1-2 Sunday in the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. But those results are part of a larger, 1-2 knockout punch they’ve been aiming at the rest of their Sprint Cup competition. Earnhardt hasn’t run worse than second in three starts this season, while Keselowski is just a step behind (third, third, first). They’re the only drivers to start this season with three top-5 finishes.

10 Drivers We Want to See Run the Indy 500-Coke 600 "Double"

Harvick, not Stewart, Danica or Busch, carrying banner for SHR

Through the Gears: Four things we learned in Phoenix
Reactions of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' visit to Phoenix, where Kevin Harvick leads the way at Stewart-Haas Racing, Jeff Gordon is off to a hot start, Roush Fenway Racing no longer king in the Ford camp, and suffering through another track's repaving.

One thing you can say about Kevin Harvick: he’s a quick learner. Thirteen years ago, in the midst of NASCAR mourning its national tragedy, he won in just the third Cup start of his career. Replacing Dale Earnhardt in the No. 3 wasn’t easy, but he made it seem like a breeze, beating Jeff Gordon — in his prime — by a nose at Atlanta.  

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