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Preview: 'Refuse to Lose' on Jeff Gordon's 1997 Daytona 500
A rare behind-the-scenes look at Jeff Gordon ’s first win in the "Great American Race" with an original film entitled "Refuse to Lose," airing Feb. 23 immediately following the Duel at Daytona on FS1.
Jeff Gordon's good luck ... tooth?
RELATED: Marquee wins of Gordon's career " NASCAR family cheers on Gordon Jeff Gordon may have had a little extra luck in his pocket during Sunday's Rolex 24 victory with Wayne Taylor Racing. No, not a rabbit's foot. Not a four-leaf clover. Not a heads-up penny. Something a little ... toothier from his daughter Ella. Sweet story! Ella lost her tooth ( as you can see!) the morning of the race, Papa had it in his pocket when he was doing his stints pic.twitter.com/qFbo1vy8N4 — Ingrid Vandebosch (@ivandebosch) January 30, 2017 One thing's for sure: Gordon (and Ella) certainly gave a toothy grin after that mega win. &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Dale Jr. jumps back into familiar surroundings with plenty of speed
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! " RELATED: Junior through the years DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr . didn't take any credit for his qualifying effort Sunday, a 192.864 mph lap that put his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet on the front row for next week's season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway . "Ain't much to it," Earnhardt quipped. "The car does all the work." Earnhardt, twice a winner of the "Great American Race," won't be on the pole, but he'll start alongside Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott , giving the team a front-row sweep for the second time in the last three years. His previous wins in the 500 came from third (in 2004) and ninth ('14). Earnhardt is regarded as one of the best at restrictor-plate racing but qualifying is a solo effort. There are no other cars off which to pick up a push or gain an advantage. It's all about horsepower. But there's a bit of technique required as well. "The transitions are kind of important as far as feeding the car into the corner and also running as tight as you can on the apron without bouncing the skirt off the apron or giving up any speed, or just time adding feet to your lap by running high, at least a little bit, can make a big difference," he said. "But other than that, the driver, I don't think he's feeling like he's in control of too much. The car is doing most of the work." Sidelined for the last half of the 2016 season after suffering concussion-like symptoms, Earnhardt is eager to be back behind the wheel. He chose not to compete in Sunday's Advance Auto Parts Clash, instead allowing Alex Bowman to field his entry. Bowman had won the pole at Phoenix driving in relief of Earnhardt last fall, a distinction that Earnhardt said earned the driver the opportunity. But after spending "The Clash" working as an analyst in the booth for Fox Sports, Earnhardt traded in his suit and tie for a firesuit, and eased his way back into more familiar surroundings. He was second-fastest in the opening round of qualifying; Elliott ended the session atop the board. In the final round, the No. 88 went to the top of the board with only one driver, Elliott, remaining. "I certainly would have loved to have gotten a pole, but my boss man is happy," Earnhardt said of team owner Rick Hendrick. "I just talked to him on the phone and he's got to be thrilled with having his cars up front." Elliott's final-round run, a lap of 192.872 mph, gave the Dawsonville, Georgia, youngster his second consecutive Daytona 500 pole. It was the third straight No. 1 qualifying effort for his No. 24 team, which also started out front here in '15 with four-time series champion Jeff Gordon behind the wheel. "Obviously Dale is good down here, and we all knew he was going to be fast today," Elliott, 21, said. "That's no surprise. But I don't really care who it is. I'm not going to feel bad about beating somebody. "It's cool to share a front row with a teammate is really the biggest thing I look at with that. But Dale is a good guy. I'm happy to share the front row with him, but happier to beat him, obviously, but regardless of who it is, that's what you're trying to do, you know." Elliott and Earnhardt were the only two drivers to officially lock in their starting positions for next weekend's Daytona 500 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The remainder of the field will be determined through the Can-Am Duels, a pair of 150-lap qualifying races scheduled for Thursday evening (7 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
NASCAR TV schedule: Feb. 20-26
Chase Elliott captures back-to-back Daytona 500 poles
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! RELATED: Full results DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Winning back-to-back Daytona 500 poles is something of a family tradition, as Chase Elliott proved by the skin of his teeth Sunday at Daytona International Speedway . The last driver to take a lap in the second and final round of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying at the 2.5-mile superspeedway, Elliott covered the distance in 46.663 seconds (192.872 mph) to edge Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr . by .002 seconds. The pole was the second straight for Elliott, who led the field to green last year as a Sunoco rookie. It was the third straight for Elliott's crew chief, Alan Gustafson, who won the pole with driver Jeff Gordon in 2015 in Gordon's last year as a full-time driver. With three straight poles as a crew, Gustafson shares a record previously held solely by Ernie Elliott, Chase Elliott 's uncle, who fielded cars driven by former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Bill Elliott , Chase's father. "Everybody at Hendrick Motorsports has done a lot of work this off-season," said Elliott, who claimed the third Coors Light Pole Award of his career, all at restrictor-plate tracks. "This team definitely has a knack for these plate tracks, as they showed with Jeff Gordon and then last year with here and Talladega (where Elliott also won the pole). "But that stuff doesn't just happen by staying the same, as everybody knows. Everyone is always trying to get better and make their cars better and faster, and the engine shop is always finding new things. So I think that's just proof that they're improving with everybody else and taking that next step, which is really impressive. "I'm happy to be a part of it, and hopefully we can run good next Sunday." Elliott and Earnhardt are the only two drivers locked into their starting spots for next Sunday’s 59th running of the "Great American Race" (2 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). They will lead the field to the green flag in both Can-Am Duel 150-mile qualifying races on Thursday night (7 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) -- Elliott in the first Duel, Earnhardt in the second. Earnhardt is racing for the first time since a concussion sidelined him for the final 18 events of the 2016 season. The satisfaction of locking in a front-row starting position tempered his disappointment at missing the pole by the slimmest of margins. "I certainly would have loved to have gotten a pole, but my boss man (Rick Hendrick) is happy," Earnhardt said. "I just talked to him on the phone, and he's got to be thrilled with having his cars up front." Brad Keselowski qualified third at 192.691 mph and will start on the outside of the front row in Thursday night's first Duel. Clint Bowyer , in his first competitive effort in a Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, will start beside Earnhardt in the second Duel after posting the fourth-fastest speed (192.571 mph). With 36 chartered teams knowing they will race next Sunday, six Open entries are vying for the four remaining berths in the Daytona 500 field. Sunday's time trials brought good news for Brendan Gaughan and Elliott Sadler , who know they will race next Sunday as the two fastest qualifiers among the "go-fast-or-go-homers." Conversely, Jeffrey Earnhardt and Timmy Hill , who posted the two slowest times in the field, can race in the 500 only if they are the fastest Open drivers in their respective Duels. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Elliott starting to feel comfortable with No. 24 legacy
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! Chase Elliott can't make fans forget the legacy of the No. 24 car, but by all indications, he's ready to make his own distinctive mark in that vaunted ride. The history of the No. 24 car is monumental, and Elliott inherited that ride last year from the driver who made it famous. The No. 24 has won 93 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races in 1,414 starts since the number debuted in 1950. All 93 victories belong to Jeff Gordon , who retired from full-time racing at NASCAR's highest level at the end of the 2015 season. When Gordon made his first premier series start in the 1992 season finale, he took over the number from Butch Gilliland, who had driven a family-owned No. 24 Pontiac at Phoenix two weeks earlier. The No. 24 made only two appearances in 1992, with Gilliland behind the wheel, before Gordon ran the number at Atlanta Motor Speedway . As he made his debut in the Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Gordon did so with no weight of history on his shoulders. The same can't be said of Elliott, who followed a four-time champion who is third on the all-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory list. But Elliott has adjusted. By all measures, he exceeded expectations in a 2016 season that saw him claim Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors. Elliott was a couple of blown restarts away from becoming the only driver other than Gordon to win in the No. 24 car, and he's ready to build on his strong performance this season. Sophomore jinx? Forget it. "You hope you can continue forward and not look at it as 'Year 2' or look at it from that perspective," Elliott said. "You have to go about it as a new season, as boring an answer as that is. You have to see the challenges as they come. One thing I'm excited about, which I haven't had in the last few years, is having the same crew chief two years in a row. I haven't had that. "I really enjoyed working with Alan (Gustafson) last year. I think he's one of the best. Everyone says that about their crew chiefs, but I'm pretty confident saying that. He does a great job and is underrated in what he does and how hard he works in trying to make a race team go. For us, it's about starting another year, improving in areas that we wanted to get better in and also improving some of the areas we succeeded in and try to keep it as simple as that." It also helps that Elliott has a different primary sponsor (NAPA) from the ones that dominated the hood of Gordon's car. Elliott's souvenir sales have been robust, and his fans are easily identifiable. "I want to be me and try to keep things as straightforward as I can," Elliott said. "I try not to be a very complicated person and try to keep things as simple as possible. I certainly appreciate the support we've had. It was incredible to see some of that last year. "Darlington stands out in my mind. We went there and saw a bunch of new 24 gear, which goes a long way. It doesn't go unnoticed and it means a lot. I certainly appreciate that support, but you want people to support you for who you are and no other reason. I hope that's the way it is for me. I'm trying to be myself." The transition from Gordon to Elliott, in the fan base as well as in the car, is emblematic of the youth movement that's evolved in the past few years from a groundswell into a full-fledged tsunami. The 2017 season brings three full-time newcomers to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in Erik Jones , Daniel Suarez and Ty Dillon . They follow by a year the talented trio of Elliott, Ryan Blaney and Chris Buescher . Before that, Austin Dillon and Kyle Larson joined the series. Elliott recalled once again his experience at Darlington, where, as he sat in his car waiting to leave the track, he noticed a large group of fans wearing No. 24 NAPA gear. "I happened to see a big group of people," Elliott explained. "That's why it stood out in my mind. As the year went on, I guess you did see a little more of the newer 24 stuff, which I thought was cool. "But I'm perfectly cool with seeing Jeff Gordon gear, too. Jeff's been good to me and has a great fan base who still enjoy going to the races. New or old 24 gear, I'm happy with it." Just as Elliott's growing cadre of fans will continue to coexist with the long-time backers of Gordon , so will their two legacies. And as the 2017 season begins to unfold, Elliott appears ready to add considerable substance to his. &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;
How the Advance Auto Parts Clash works
MORE : Full starting lineup " Practice results The exhibition event known as the Advance Auto Parts Clash (Feb. 18, 8 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) is the kickoff to the 2017 NASCAR season. The non-points paying event at Daytona International Speedway features a select field of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers at the 2.5-mile track. How does the race work? What is the format? How does one qualify for the event? NASCAR.com answers those questions and more. Programming info for The Clas h : When: Feb. 19, 11:35 a.m. ET Where: Daytona International Speedway TV: FS1 Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Defending race winner: Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing What is the format? The 75-lap, 187.5-mile race will be split into two segments. A competition caution at Lap 25 will separate the segments. How do drivers qualify for this event? Drivers are eligible for this event by the following ways: 2016 Coors Light Pole Award winners, former Clash race winners and former Daytona 500 pole winners who competed full-time in 2016. All 16 drivers from the 2016 playoffs are also eligible. Which drivers are eligible to race then? " Entry list for 'The Clash' 20 drivers meet the requirements. They are: Chris Buescher (2016 playoff qualifier) Greg Biffle (2016 Coors Light Pole Award winner) Alex Bowman (2016 Coors Light Pole Award winner) Kurt Busch (2016 Coors Light Pole Award winner) Kyle Busch (2016 Coors Light Pole Award winner) Austin Dillon (2016 Coors Light Pole Award winner) Dale Earnhardt Jr . (Former Clash Race winner) Carl Edwards (2016 Coors Light Pole Award winner) Chase Elliott (2016 Coors Light Pole Award winner) Denny Hamlin (2016 Coors Light Pole Award winner) Kevin Harvick (2016 Coors Light Pole Award winner) Jimmie Johnson (2016 Coors Light Pole Award winner) Matt Kenseth (2016 Coors Light Pole Award winner) Brad Keselowski (2016 Coors Light Pole Award winner) Kyle Larson (2016 playoff qualifier) Joey Logano (2016 Coors Light Pole Award winner) Jamie McMurray (2016 playoff qualifier) Danica Patrick (Former Daytona 500 Coors Light Pole Award winner) Tony Stewart (Former Clash Race winner) Martin Truex Jr . (2016 Coors Light Pole Award winner) Some of those names are not driving in 2017 or have yet to secure rides That's a good point. Biffle does not have a ride as of yet for the 2017 season, so he will not be competing. Edwards stepped away from racing last month, but NASCAR has allowed his replacement, Daniel Suarez , to drive in the race. Stewart has retired from NASCAR competition. So that puts the field at 18. Bowman and Dale Jr. drove the same car in 2016; how can they both be in the race? They won't. Alex Bowman will drive the No. 88 in The Clash as a nod to the work he did as a substitute driver while Dale Earnhardt Jr . was out last season with concussion-like symptoms. Instead, Dale Jr. will be in the TV booth calling the action on FS1 with commentators Mike Joy, Jeff Gordon and Darrell Waltrip. So the field will be made up of how many cars? Seventeen drivers will make up the field: Buescher, Bowman, Kurt Busch , Kyle Busch , Austin Dillon , Elliott, Hamlin, Harvick, Johnson, Kenseth, Keselowski, Larson, Logano, McMurray, Patrick, Suarez and Truex Jr. How is the lineup determined? A draw will be held to determine drivers' starting positions. In past years, the crew chiefs have drawn for position. Hamlin, last year's winner, started the race 15th . " See the starting lineup Are there any points on the lin e? No, this is a non-points event, just like the Monster Energy All-Star Race in May.
Gordon loves first stint driving in 2017 Rolex 24
RELATED: Full Rolex 24 schedule, TV channels DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Jeff Gordon has taken a very serious approach to his participation in the weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona. However, the four-time NASCAR champion was all smiles after climbing out of his Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi following his first stint behind the wheel Saturday evening. He had the ultimate E-ticket ride, taking over the wheel of the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac during a caution period and getting a sports car schooling in restarts that only energized him to hope for another chance at it. By the time Gordon turned the car over to veteran Max Angelelli, it was running second place to the No. 31 Cadillac overall in the 55-car field -- a productive maiden outing for the stock car superstar. "That right there was big for me," Gordon said, grinning. "The other night, the practice didn't go well, had a lock up on cold tires, couldn't get it in reverse, I was in traffic the whole time and couldn't put a good lap down. I was frustrated. "This, today built up my confidence. I was out there really hoping they were going to tell me to go on and do a third stint. I really wanted to do it and I'm glad I'm going to get back out there." Thousands of fans at the track and watching on computers and televisions will be glad to see Gordon back out there, as well. It certainly appeared to be one of the largest, most enthusiastic crowds in Rolex 24 history. The starting grid was absolutely packed with fans. They were 10-15 deep surrounding Gordon's Wayne Taylor Racing car on the starting grid and even included racing celebrities such as IndyCar champion Simon Pagenaud. Gordon readily conceded the whole experience was something he won't soon forget. While standing alongside the race car, Gordon allowed his young son Leo and daughter Ella to sit briefly behind the steering wheel -- a real treat judging by their smiles after being lifted back out onto the grid to stand alongside their legendary father. "It was amazing, an incredible crowd down there," Gordon said of the pre-race atmosphere. "There were so many cool cars out there, and people wanted to see them. "It really gives you that grasp of the history of this race, the flags of all the countries represented by the drivers. That's why I'm here. To be a part of a very special event and drive a really cool car." Gordon certainly impressed his co-drivers. Wayne Taylor's oldest son Ricky started the race, doing a triple stint and moving into the lead -- from a fourth-place staring position -- by the time he pitted for the driver change with Gordon during a full-course caution. "Definitely a quick pace," Ricky Taylor said afterward, adding with a smile. "In my head, everyone was telling me build a gap, build a gap. But I didn't want to be the one to crash the car then Jeff Gordon doesn't get to get in and that would be the worst. "We know we have good pace, we just wanted to settle in and kinda pick people off when we could. We kinda wanted a long green run and our plan was to get Jeff the car with a little lead and take the pressure off his first time in the car." "The car seems OK, and he'll do what Jeff Gordon does once he gets going here." Having to restart in front of the field was a bit of trial by fire for Gordon , who joked it "might be crazier than NASCAR racing for the frenetic pace and jockeying for position among four classes of cars." Strapped back inside the @WayneTaylorRcng @Cadillac . Here's where you can watch @Rolex24Hours racing -> https://t.co/eIr6CYOW63 . #TeamJG pic.twitter.com/pRG4JN3z2H — Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) January 29, 2017 He said he was also prepared -- if not eager -- for the possibility of rain, which is forecast for the overnight hours and began around 9 p.m. ET. "It was a horrendous experience for me in '07," Gordon recalled of his only other Rolex start -- a third place effort for the team in 2007. "I was out in nighttime in a downpour, a monsoon. They told me they don't even race in conditions like that anymore, and I was like, 'Thank goodness.' I was on slicks and had to come in and not wreck. Then I went out on race tires and it didn't feel a whole lot better," he said laughing. "I was glad to have a chance to drive in the rain during the Roar [Rolex test session]. I at least got to see where it puddles. But we are so much more prepared and so am I." Angelelli had moved the car into first place overall by the time night fell, and it looked like the class of the field. Gordon said he expected to do another double stint before midnight and acknowledged a victory in this historic event would just be so incredibly special. "I'm trying to absorb this one right now," Gordon said of his time in the race. "I love this form of racing and I certainly love it here in Daytona. " Look who is here for the #Rolex24 ! pic.twitter.com/9kxhrznxKF — Daytona IntlSpeedway (@DISupdates) January 28, 2017 Dillon brothers visit Daytona There were other NASCAR connections in the Rolex 24, from Cup drivers Austin and Ty Dillon walking around the garage to Casey Mears tweeting a photo of his 2006 Rolex 24 trophy -- he was the first full-time NASCAR driver to win overall in the event. The six-time Rolex-winning Chip Ganassi Racing team led the GT LeMans class from the drop of the green flag. And another full-time NASCAR driver, Austin Cindric, made his Rolex debut. The 18-year-old Cindric, who will drive full-time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Brad Keselowski this season, was turning heads in the GTD class. He opened the event with a triple driving stint and drove the No. 15 Lexus GT3 car from a 21st starting position to seventh place when he got of the car. He is planning to run all the endurance races with the Lexus RCF GT3. "My career has always been about I'll drive anything and hopefully get some success," said Cindric, who will be running all the endurance races with the Lexus RCF GT3 team this season. "You have to have the right opportunity and be in the right equipment," he said. "And I feel like I am both here in this paddock and in the NASCAR truck paddock." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
'Slam dunk' opportunity fuels Gordon at Rolex 24
RELATED: Full Rolex 24 schedule DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- For a four-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup champion, Jeff Gordon sure seemed like a kid in a candy store Friday afternoon in the Daytona International Speedway garage area preparing for his second career start in Saturday's iconic Rolex 24 sports car race. Gordon will team with brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor and sports car veteran Max Angelelli in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi owned by the Taylors' legendary racing father, Wayne Taylor. Competing in this renowned IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race with a team favored to win was an opportunity Gordon was not going to miss. Nor take lightly. "It was a slam dunk for me," Gordon said of the decision to participate. "What prevented me in other years (from racing in the Rolex) was the commitment. You really want to be in the car in December and in January and get as much track time as you can, especially with this car, which is so different from a NASCAR stock car. "I knew I could do it since I was no longer competing full time and it was icing on the cake when Wayne told me about the car." Gordon's approach to this race has been full commitment -- not only participating in all the December and January preseason tests but to making a special trip to the team's Indianapolis-based race shop just to practice driver changes. "Physically I'm good, but I'm beat up from doing all the driver changes," Gordon said smiling Friday after final practice. "I've got bumps and bruises all over from those. "Every time I get in and out of the car I'll probably feel those. I've really been working on my fitness to prepare for this race because these cars are so physically demanding." The team was second-fastest in the opening two practices and topped the field in the final two practice sessions. Ricky Taylor will start the race -- rolling off the grid from fourth place Saturday. Gordon is expected to follow next in the four-driver rotation with everyone doing at least double stints -- about an hour and a half behind the wheel at a time. Another Cadillac DPi, fielded by Mustang Sampling Racing, will lead the 55-car field to the green flag. Weather may be a challenge. Temperatures began dropping Friday evening and are expected to hover around 60 during the daytime hours with rain showers beginning Saturday overnight. While the rain isn't expected to be heavy, the wet weather is predicted to linger through early Sunday. Gordon did get some wet-weather practice during the test earlier this month, but smiled thinking about the prospects of racing in the rain. "There was a monsoon in 2007 when I drove and it was one of the most frightening things I've ever experienced," he said, laughing. Gordon's teammates said they have been impressed with Gordon's preparation. The Taylor boys were only in their teens when they watched Gordon compete for their father in 2007 and finish third overall. "I didn't want to get in the way," Ricky Taylor recalled Friday. "Me and Jordan back then, we were always around but didn't spend a lot of time with him. "But between then and now, every time we (IMSA) shared a weekend with NASCAR, he'd always come by and say 'Hi.' I thought that was cool considering how busy they are. It's been really an incredible experience driving with someone we watched growing up and a legend in the sport. Even if he's from a different discipline I have so much respect for what he does. "For him to come here, the biggest thing we were shocked to learn was his approach to it all and how much intensity he brings. Everyone talks about him being retired and stepping out of NASCAR, but he's as hungry as ever." That's only encouraging news for this team, which started this race from pole position in 2010 but hasn't won overall. Wayne Taylor has a pair of Rolex watches from wins in 1997 and 2005 and his talented sons are eager to win one in their father's car. "For us, as sports car drivers, this is one of the biggest races in the world and to win ... that on its own, would be fantastic," Ricky Taylor said. "But the fact somebody like Jeff wants to add this to his resume and we have the opportunity to support him in that and to contribute to his amazing career. … that would be cool and to have our names next to his, that would be historic. "Although this race is very important to us, I didn't expect him to take it as seriously as he is. He's putting everything into it, asking questions, and just the fact, a driver as accomplished as he is and has won in so many different things, he comes here and is still so open to learning and cares enough to want to be humble and contribute to the team. "He doesn't want to drive just to win a (Rolex) watch, he wants to contribute and be a part of a winning effort. For us as young drivers to look at that, that is why he was so successful." &lt;/p&gt;
Cain: Emotional, hard fought win for Gordon , No. 10 team
RELATED: Gordon , No. 10 team win Rolex 24 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Before the Rolex 24 trophy hoisting, the hugs, handshakes and high-fives Sunday afternoon, Jeff Gordon and his Wayne Taylor Racing teammates paused to -- at last -- take a big breath. A HUGE breath of the freshest of air. Victory. It was an unbelievably tense and emotional final hour of a 24-hour race with 27-year-old Ricky Taylor prevailing in a gritty bump-and-run for the lead with less than 10 minutes remaining. It was a winning move every bit reminiscent of his co-driver Gordon's NASCAR world. "At the end of the day you have to go for it, so I went for it," Taylor said. The friends and crew members crowded into the Taylor team's pit stall alongside the famed Daytona International Speedway were mostly silent for the final hour of the race -- all but for the controlled variation of fist pumps and quiet cheers as they watched Taylor triumph in that must-take, dramatic final pass for the lead following more than 23-3/4 hours of perhaps the most all-around competitive and best-attended Rolex ever. It was indicative of this event. An Alegra Motorsports Porsche won the GTD class by less than a second (0.293 seconds). And NASCAR team owner Chip Ganassi Racing 's Ford GT won a super competitive GT LeMans class by 2.9 seconds -- remarkably eight class cars finishing nose-to-tail on the same lap. As the white flag waved to signal the final lap of the race, people in the Taylor team pit box looked around smiling and quite obviously trying to contain the emotion. And then finally, as Ricky Taylor drove across the start/finish line, you could distinguish Gordon's cheers among the emotional celebration. He is the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion to take overall victory in this iconic event and only the fourth driver (joining A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti and Jamie McMurray ) to win both the Daytona 500 and the Rolex 24. RELATED: NASCAR drivers' history in Rolex 2 4 Team owner Wayne Taylor -- who last won here as a driver in 2005 -- ran out to his son, who slowed the car on pit road. He opened the door and leaned in for an embrace, then Wayne climbed onto the side of the race car. Youngest son Jordan Taylor, 25, who also drove the car, took position on the other side of the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi as Ricky triumphantly drove the family to Daytona's Victory Lane. Gordon , along with the team's veteran driver Max Angelelli -- who was making his final race start -- walked down pit road to meet them, receiving all the accolades deserved after such an impressive victory. "This is unbelievable, I haven't been this emotional for a win and an experience like this for a very long time," a smiling and effusive Gordon said, amid the cheering and congratulations. "The reason is because I know what this means to this team, Wayne (Taylor), these kids (Ricky and Jordan), Max. Oh my gosh. This is amazing. Daytona has always been special, but this one sent me over the top. I'm just blown away right now. "It's unbelievable that it came down to that. What a battle, what a race. Cadillac, I'm so impressed with this race car. It's not just beautiful, it's strong." WATCH: Junior talks about his Rolex 24 experience, Gordon , more Twice in the previous three years, Taylor's team has finished runner-up in this grueling Daytona Speedweeks opener. It has been heartbreaking and yet, also so extremely motivating to the Taylor family. As the five men joined together late Sunday to speak about the race, they alternately sported wide smiles and conceded earlier tears. This was the hugest of triumphs among years of determined efforts. And they were so grateful to share the special day with Gordon , who joked about racing in the rain Saturday night, but repeatedly spoke about the great respect he has gained for the young Taylors' racing talent. "I've built enough of a bond with this group, I'd love to see them get other opportunities out there," Gordon said. "They have the personality and the talent. "All I've been thinking about is how can I get them to some ovals in a bigger, heavier car." RELATED: NASCAR family cheers Gordon and Ganassi Gordon even suggested that the winning experience may motivate him to do the race again next year. "I felt more prepared and it was an even better experience than 2007 so who knows, maybe there's a chance of another one," Gordon said. "I want to contribute and add and help this team win. These are the real winners. But I did my part and I'm proud of that." Every time the Taylor brothers and their father spoke of the winning moments, they talked about how much more special it was because Gordon was with them. As the team gathered on the starting grid in the minutes before the race, Gordon and the Taylors revealed temporary tattoos of a Rolex watch -- extra motivation that had worn off by the checkered flag. Only to be replaced by the real thing, capping off a race weekend that Gordon , his teammates and sports car fandom will remember for a very, very long time. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;