In a year filled with farewells and reminiscing, Jeff Gordon – and his entire racing family – was presented with a unique tribute to his remarkable racing career.
Jeff Gordon sits in front of 90 miniature “Miles the Monster” statues at Dover International Speedway on Friday, Oct. 2. Photo by GETTY IMAGES
On Friday, Dover International Speedway, as well as local elected officials, made special presentations to Gordon in advance of Sunday’s “AAA 400” NASCAR Sprint Cup race in recognition of his contributions to the track and sport.
Gordon, 44, a five-time Dover NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner, received 90 miniature “Miles the Monster” trophies for himself, his crew and Hendrick Motorsports team members in North Carolina. Each trophy is inscribed with the individual’s name, as well as the following quote from Hall of Fame professional football coach Vince Lombardi:
“The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.”
Gordon 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.
“This is amazing – I don’t know how we’re going to get all these home but thank you very much,” Gordon said. “Our guys are going to appreciate this very, very much.”
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.”
“I’ve always enjoyed Dover,” Gordon said. “This does remind me of how much Dover and Delaware have meant to me. Coming up to Wilmington and visiting DuPont every year, it was always special coming here. You always want to have success in your sponsor’s home.”
In addition to the trophies, Gordon received praise from Dover Motorsports Inc. CEO Denis McGlynn, as well as Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen, Delaware State Sen. Brian Bushweller and Delaware State Rep. William Carson. Christiansen named Gordon an honorary citizen of the City of Dover, while Bushweller and Carson read recognitions from the Delaware State Senate and Delaware State House of Representatives, respectively.
Gordon will be looking for a strong finish in Sunday’s “AAA 400” NASCAR Sprint Cup race to ensure his advancement in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. Gordon is 10th in the point standings, 11 points ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the 12th spot. Twelve drivers will advance out of the Monster Mile with their championship dreams intact.
Gordon hasn’t earned a NASCAR Sprint Cup victory since last fall at Dover International Speedway.
“I hope that my last victory didn’t come here last year. I hope it comes here this year. And then, maybe one more at Homestead.”
Friday’s ceremony was just one of the many Gordon tributes planned for the weekend, which also includes a Saturday doubleheader with the “Drive Sober 125” presented by the Delaware Office of Highway Safety NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at 9:30 a.m. and the “Hisense 200” NASCAR XFINITY Series race at 3:30 p.m.
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 789 of his career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts.
Other events honoring Gordon during the Monster Mile’s latest NASCAR weekend include a “Thanks Jeff!” billboard displayed at Turn 2 and the souvenir program and fan guide for the “AAA 400” NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race prominently feature Gordon on the cover.
In addition, Gordon is set to be honored in 2016 with a permanent plaque on the Miles the Monster statue 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.
Sunday’s “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.
First Sprint Cup race: 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 (95.13%)
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. 27, New Hampshire)
Laps Completed: 226,133
Laps Led: 24,860
Top 5 finishes: 323
Top 10 finishes: 468