A good bit of racing this weekend as NASCAR returns to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a couple of races and Formula One hits Hungary while IndyCar enjoys a weekend off.
JEFF GORDON RETURNS
Perhaps the biggest news of the season for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is that four-time champion Jeff Gordon is coming out of retirement to drive for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is out with a concussion. Gordon, who retired following the 2015 season, will race this weekend at Indy and next weekend at Pocono.
It looks like Hendrick Motorsports has made a wise decision in casting Gordon as Earnhardt's temporary replacement as Gordon has five wins in the Brickyard 400 and six wins at Pocono Raceway. After competing for 23 years in Sprint Cup competition, all with Hendrick, one can imagine there won't be much rust for Gordon to shake off.
The bigger question is what does this mean for Earnhardt's career? He sat out two races in 2012 because of concussions and also suffered one in 2002. With all of the attention being paid to what concussions might mean for long-term brain health, especially in sports, could Earnhardt hang it up sooner than he planned?
At 41 years old, it would seem that Earnhardt still has a few competitive years left in him and he certainly wants to win a Sprint Cup title before moving on. However, after missing what will be at least three races if he is to return following the race at Pocono, time is running out for him to make this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup.
On the other hand, Earnhardt should be applauded for shedding his tough guy image and taking this matter seriously. Who knows how many times drivers have gotten back into their cars after suffering similar injuries and risked not only their lives, but the lives of their fellow competitors? Hopefully, Earnhardt fully recovers and has many more years of competitive racing ahead of him.
As far as the race itself, other former winners in the field include four-time winner Jimmie Johnson and two-time winner Tony Stewart, as well as Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard, Ryan Newman and defending winner Kyle Busch.
I would watch out for Stewart, who has four top-seven finishes in his last five starts, including a win at Sonoma. It would be about the best thing in the world to see the Indiana native win in his final race at Brickyard.
The Xfinity Series will hold the Lilly Diabetes 250 at 2:30 p.m. Saturday with coverage on NBC Sports Network. Coverage of the Brickyard 400 starts at 2 p.m. Sunday, also on NBC Sports Network.
CAN HAMILTON TAKE F1 POINTS LEAD?
Formula One continues its trek across Europe and docks at the Hungaroring in Budapest for the Hungarian Grand Prix. The race is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and is one of the tightest, twistiest tracks on the F1 calendar, which always makes for an exciting race.
Points leader Nico Rosberg is holding on to the slimmest of margins over Lewis Hamilton after Hamilton's run of four wins in the last five races. One point is all that separates the Mercedes teammates/rivals with Rosberg being penalized following the British Grand Prix two weeks ago for illegal assistance via team radio. The penalty dropped Rosberg from second to third in the finishing order, behind Red Bull's Max Verstappen.
Hamilton has four wins in Hungary, more than any active driver, which bodes well for his chances of overtaking Rosberg in the championship points. Other former winners in the field include Daniel Ricciardo, Ferrari teammates Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren teammates Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso.
Coverage of the Hungarian Grand Prix starts at 6:30 a.m. Sunday on NBC Sports Network.
POWER CLOSES IN ON PAGENAUD
As I mentioned, the Verizon IndyCar Series is off this weekend following a run of six races in the last eight weeks. Last week's Honda Indy Toronto saw Will Power take his third win of the year, pulling within 47 points of points leader and teammate Simon Pagenaud.
Helio Castroneves finished second while native son James Hinchcliffe finished third to match his best finish of the season and best career finish on his home track. The race looked like a sure thing for Scott Dixon, but a mistimed pit stop and late yellow flag relegated the defending series champion to an eighth place finish.
Next week will see the series at Mid-Ohio Raceway, where defending winner Graham Rahal will try to repeat on his home turf and inject some fire into what has so far been a mediocre season.
Madison International Speedway will hold round two of the Super Late Model Triple Crown, which includes a 50-lap feature as well as Late Model, Sportsman and Bandit features. Action starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Jefferson Speedway will have a full program of racing while Rockford Speedway will have Sportsman and Short Tracker double features as well as Late Model and Roadrunner features. The action starts at 7 p.m. Saturday at both tracks.