Gordon fastest in final practices at New Hampshire
LOUDON, N.H. (AP) Jeff Gordon denied Brad Keselowski's shot at a perfect weekend with a late run in the final practice Saturday at New Hampshire that put him at the top of the chart at 135.357 mph.
Keselowski had the fastest practice speed on Friday, won the pole, and topped the first practice chart on Saturday. Keselowski and Gordon finished 1-2 in the last two Sprint Cup races. They reversed the order headed into the second Chase for the Sprint Cup championship race on Sunday.
Keselowski is coming off consecutive victories at Richmond and the Chase for the Sprint Cup opener last week at Chicagoland. He swept the Cup and Nationwide races at New Hampshire in July.
He can also become the first Ford driver to win three straight Cup races since Rusty Wallace in June 1994. The 2012 champion, Keselowski has stamped himself as an early favorite to win it all again.
''I feel like winning a second title would feel real and it could eliminate any doubts that I would have or anyone else would have for the remainder of my career, which would be incredible,'' he said.
Chase drivers took the top seven spots: Kevin Harvick was third, followed by Joey Logano, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth.
Tony Stewart spun in the final minute of practice, though the No. 14 did not appear to suffer any damage. Stewart was back in the car this weekend for the first time since he learned a grand jury will decide his fate in the fatal sprint car crash in upstate New York.
Danica Patrick turned a lap of 134.944 and was seventh for SHR. Kurt Busch was 14th and Stewart was 16th. The four SHR drivers - Harvick, Patrick, Busch, Stewart - all tested at New Hampshire for two days earlier this month.
Stewart, a three-time champion with 48 career Cup wins in 542 starts, has remained quiet since making a brief statement when he returned to the track three races ago at Atlanta.
Harvick said he has tried to give Stewart his space at the track and keep the focus on racing.
''We talk about racing. We talk about our cars and what we're doing on the racetrack,'' he said. ''We talk on the track and just let him deal with everything he has to deal with away from the racetrack.''
Carl Edwards was the slowest Chase driver with a speed of 133.736, 26th in the final session.