Retiring Jeff Gordon: ‘It’s great to come to … Michigan’

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 - Qualifying



Perhaps they’ll name the infield at Michigan International Speedway the “Jeff Gordon Mosh Pit” for the August NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400.

After all, Phoenix International Raceway will be renamed Jeff Gordon Raceway for the Nov. 15 race there.

Gordon has just today’s Quicken Loans 400, in which he starts sixth, and the August race left on his agenda of Michigan starts before he retires.

It is hard to believe he will leave the cockpit at the end of the year, but the Hendrick Motorsports veteran is adamant he is done after the Chase.

So expect Gordon, the four-time Cup champ, to be up on the wheel today. He won at MIS last August for his third victory at the track, with his other two in 2001 and 1998.

“This is a track — certainly after how we performed last year — that I’ve enjoyed over the years a lot,” said Gordon, who has made 44 Cup starts in the Irish Hills. “I love the transitions. I love the speed. I love the big sweeping corners and the challenges that this track presents to a driver.”

Gordon, who will be driving the No. 24 Panasonic Chevrolet today, has been a great ambassador for NASCAR. But he has yet to win and secure a Chase spot this season, his luck not exactly the best in the first 14 races.

Gordon is 10th in Cup points. A victory today would ensure him a playoff spot.

“I definitely still have confidence with the type of season we’ve had so far,” said Gordon, 43. “It’s great to come to a place like Michigan. We were fast in practice and qualifying. The team is working extremely hard to make those improvements we need and give me what I need to go out there and have confidence.”

Gordon is running strong — and a bit hot at Pocono last weekend, when he had words on the radio with crew chief Alan Gustafson.

He didn’t duck questions about it at MIS.

“It’s intense out there,” Gordon said. “We had a better car than what we finished. I would say a little bit of build up with the type of season that we have had so far. It seems like every time we have a car that is capable of either winning or running in the top five … something takes us out of it. At that point I think both Alan and I were frustrated.”

Today, Gordon can turn it around with a win.

“The performance has not quite been there,” Gordon said. “The confidence has not quite been there. And it all comes together when you have those things. But one race can make a huge difference in getting you back there, and I think this is definitely a track that can do that for us.”




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