Just a generation ago, NASCAR drivers raced until they were embarrassing themselves, the money ran out or they simply couldn't make it to the track anymore. They could compete into their mid-50s, and make a really good living.
The moment practice ended at Bristol Motor Speedway, Kurt Busch climbed the steep banking of the concrete bullring. He checked the track temperature in several spots, then used his shoes to test the grip of the surface as he scuffed his way back down.
Joe Gibbs Racing had three victories at this point last season, including back-to-back wins by Kyle Busch. Then Carl Edwards reeled off consecutive victories and the organization was easily the best in NASCAR.
Fernando Alonso is a highly decorated driver who was once at the top of Formula One. IndyCar has plenty of international drivers, so adding the Spaniard for the 500 isn't unusual in that respect. But his F1 titles came long ago, in 2005 and 2006, and he has yet to score a point in three races this year with McLaren.
During three years of sometimes hostile racing between teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, their Mercedes team avoided imposing team orders even when the tension was reaching break point and the two rivals were crashing into each other.
Spanish driver Carlos Sainz Jr. has been given a three-place grid penalty for the next race in Russia after stewards ruled that he crashed into Canadian Lance Stroll during Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix.