HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) The latest from Homestead-Miami Speedway, the site of NASCAR’s season finale (all times EST):
Jeff Gordon is getting lots of love before his final race, maybe even more than expected.
Fellow drivers Danica Patrick and Kyle Larson are wearing Gordon tribute hats. Patrick’s is old-school ”rainbow warriors” colors. Joey Logano posted a picture Sunday of him and Gordon on Facebook and wrote, ”You were my idol growing up. Never did I think I’d race against you for wins. Congrats on a great career Jeff Gordon.”
NASCAR presented Gordon with a tribute video during the pre-race drivers’ meeting and then everyone in the room gave him a standing ovation.
”Jeff, congratulations on an outstanding career. We thank you for all you’ve done for NASCAR and will do,” NASCAR President Mike Helton said. ”You’re a true champion and a top-shelf guy.”
Fans lined a red carpet leading to the meeting and showered Gordon with praise. Gordon responded by high-fiving hundreds of them.
Gordon had presents for his colleagues, too.
Gordon gave each driver in the finale field an inscribed, carbon-fiber box to commemorate his last race. Gordon recalled Richard Petty doing something similar in the 1992 season finale in Atlanta. Petty gave each driver in that race a ”Petty blue” money clip.
”Something I’ve always cherished,” Gordon tweeted along with a picture of the clip.
Tim McGraw is ready to trade his cowboy hat for a race helmet.
”The big news is: I’m driving today,” McGraw joked.
McGraw, a noted car enthusiast, is settling for taking the mic as the headline act for a pre-race concert at NASCAR’s season finale.
Before heading to the stage, McGraw attended the drivers’ meeting and sought out four-time champion Jeff Gordon to shake his hand. Gordon is retiring after the finale.
Count No. 42 among those pulling for No. 24 in NASCAR’s season finale.
Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States, expressed support for four-time champion Jeff Gordon on his Twitter page.
”I’m excited to watch (at)JeffGordonWeb’s last thrilling ride tomorrow. He’s a great friend to me and to the (at)ClintonFdn. Best of luck (hash)Team24!” Clinton posted.
Gordon is one of four drivers remaining in contention for the title. Kyle Busch, defending series champion Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. also will race for the championship Sunday.
NFL Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway, who knows a thing or two about championship drives, also has a rooting interest in the finale. Elway, the general manager and executive vice president of football operations for the Denver Broncos, wished Truex luck.
Truex’s Furniture Row Racing team is based in Denver.
”All the best to our hometown (at)FR78Racing team, Driver (at)MartinTruex-Jr & Owner Barney Visser w/their championship race tomorrow!!” Elway tweeted.
Rain is threatening the start of NASCAR’s season finale.
The track is dry for now, but dark clouds loom and forecasts call for afternoon thundershowers. The green flag is scheduled for 3:15 p.m.
NASCAR officials say they won’t start the race unless they believe they can finish it. They also have no plans to alter their current race rules, meaning the finale could be deemed official any time after the halfway point in the 400-mile race.
Last week’s race in Phoenix was shortened by 93 laps because of storms.
But would NASCAR really end its championship event early?
AP Sports Writers Jenna Fryer and Dan Gelston contributed to this report.
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