CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Hendrick Motorsports seems to have the edge, at least on paper, in the race with Team Penske for the top organization in NASCAR.
Hendrick has three drivers ranked in the top five of the Sprint Cup Series standings, and Jeff Gordon has been the points leader for 12 of the last 13 races. Combined, Hendrick drivers have six victories this season.
Team Penske has both its drivers in the top nine in points, with Brad Keselowski charging hard after Gordon's lead. Keselowski's victory last week at New Hampshire was his third of the season, tying him for the most in the series with Jimmie Johnson.
With only seven races until the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship begins, it's shaping up to be a Hendrick vs. Penske battle for the title.
"You've got the Ford versus Chevy, and both organizations seem to be on top of their game right now," Gordon said. "To me, there's that competitive rivalry that we have among all our competitors, and when one rises to the top, then they put a target on their back and you go after it, and you have that sort of rivalry."
But Gordon doesn't want to be drawn into a personal rivalry with the Penske organization or drivers Keselowski and Joey Logano.
"There's been a little bit here and there, but you know, I think Brad certainly doesn't mind a little controversy and stirring it up as we've seen social media wise and just in the media," Gordon said. "For us, it's just going about our business trying to be the best that we possibly can, and those guys seem to be the teams to beat right now.
"If there's any rivalry, it's just that we're working hard to go out there and be the most competitive team out there," he added.
Keselowski has indeed been vocal about Penske's pursuit of the Hendrick team. He felt Penske had taken huge strides toward the top in 2012 when Keselowski beat Johnson for the championship, but has complained through 2013 and this year that it's a challenge to keep up with the Hendrick organization.
Now that Keselowski and Logano are winning and seem to be the most consistent qualifiers, Keselowski was asked if Penske is in the same position as 2012.
"I think in a lot of ways we're stronger than that," he said. "I don't think we've had this much speed before. I think there's potential left, so that's all very encouraging to me. I feel like I'm in a really strong rhythm right now. More to come."
IT'S A BOY: Kyle Larson announced he'll be a first-time father last month, and now the Sprint Cup Series rookie knows he's having a boy.
Larson and girlfriend Katelyn Sweet learned the sex of the baby on Tuesday night during a gender reveal party. The two then shared the news with fans on social media, with Sweet posting photos of her and Larson, who was wearing a blue shirt and pink shorts, holding up a sign that declared "It's a Boy."
"Exciting day for us," Larson posted on Twitter. "Ready to go go kart racing again!"
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