At the dawn of the new millennium, as NASCAR was watching its national influence grow from country back roads to corporate board rooms, one driver stood alone as the face of the sport.
Through 92 victories, more than 225,000 laps completed, and four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships, Jeff Gordon has served as a shining star for more than two decades, combining raw racing talent with Madison Avenue charm.
Now, as that era nears its close, Dover International Speedway plans to honor Gordon’s legendary career during activities surrounding the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series “AAA 400” on Sunday, Oct. 4.
Gordon, 44, a five-time Dover NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner, announced earlier this year that 2015 would be his final full-time season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He is planning to join Fox Sports as an analyst during its 2016 NASCAR broadcasts.
A few special things are planned for Gordon, including a takeover of the 94-foot-tall scoring pylon, thanks to the help of Daktronics, the company that built and installed the pylon.
On Lap 24 of the “AAA 400,” the entire Daktronics scoring pylon will display the No. 24. Gordon has driven the No. 24 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports in all 788 of his career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts, including last September, when he earned his fifth career Dover victory.
Gordon’s connection with Monster Mile fans began early, as Delaware chemical giant DuPont served as the primary sponsor of his No. 24 car for several seasons. The iconic multi-colored paint job on both his Chevrolet and the fire suits of the No. 24 team’s pit crew led to their designation as the “Rainbow Warriors.”
“We still consider him our hometown favorite due to his longtime relationship with Delaware-based DuPont,” said Denis McGlynn, president and CEO of Dover Motorsports, Inc. “He was and is a great champion, and he’s earned every bit of the respect he enjoys today.”
Other events planned to honor Gordon during the upcoming race weekend include:
• On Friday, Oct. 2, track and elected officials will make a special presentation to Gordon during his appearance in the Infield Media Center, in recognition of his contributions to the track and sport.
• A “Thanks Jeff!” billboard will be displayed at Turn 2 of the Monster Mile.
• The souvenir program and fan guide for the “AAA 400” will prominently feature Gordon on the cover.
In addition to those weekend activities, Gordon is set to be honored in 2016 with a permanent plaque on the Miles the Monster statue behind the frontstretch grandstands in Victory Plaza and a fan event. The plaque will detail Gordon’s achievements at the Monster Mile, as well as his entire NASCAR career. More information on 2016 plans will be shared during the offseason.
The Oct. 4 “AAA 400” will feature the first eliminations of NASCAR’s 16-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup playoff. Four drivers will be eliminated from title contention following the checkered flag. For more race information, or to purchase tickets, visit DoverSpeedway.com or call 800-441-RACE. You can also keep up with the Monster Mile at Facebook.com/DoverInternationalSpeedway, or on Twitter at @MonsterMile and Instagram at @MonsterMile.
JEFF GORDON CAREER STATISTICS
Birthday: Aug. 4, 1971
Hometown: Vallejo, Calif.
Rookie Year: 1992
Current Crew Chief: Alan Gustafson
Sprint Cup Series Championships: 4 (1995, 1997, 1998, 2001)
Daytona 500 wins: 3 (1997, 1999, 2005)
Sprint All-Star Race wins: 3 (1995, 1997, 2001)
Gordon at Dover International Speedway
Laps completed: 17,989 of 18,909
Laps led: 2,389
Average start: 11.9
Top 5 finishes: 18
Top 10 finishes: 26
Average finish: 11.4
Gordon’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Career
(through Sept. 20, Chicagoland)
Laps Completed: 225,833
Laps Led: 24,860
Top 5 finishes: 323
Top 10 finishes: 467