Four-time champion makes announcement on FOX Sports 1 RELATED: Full coverage of Gordon's final full-time season, announcement CONCORD, N.C. – When Jeff Gordon steps out of the race car and into the television booth next season, he'll still be competing. Only this time it could be with himself instead of 42 other NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers. The four-time series champion and Hendrick Motorsports driver will be an integral part of the FOX NASCAR broadcast team full time next season as a race analyst. Gordon made the announcement Thursday on FOX Sports 1's "Race Hub" prior to LiftMaster Pole Night at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Gordon will join fellow analyst Darrell Waltrip and play-by-play announcer Mike Joy when FOX opens the 2016 season with the coverage of SpeedWeeks from Daytona International Speedway . He will help call races, practices and qualifying sessions for the network. Former crew chief Larry McReynolds, who currently works alongside Joy and Waltrip, will move to the on-site studio, known as the Hollywood Hotel, where he will be paired with Chris Myers and Michael Waltrip . "I will tell you that being up in the booth, there was an adrenalin rush … it's exciting," Gordon said after qualifying 18th for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 (FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR, 6 p.m.). "I enjoyed it. The competition might be with myself trying to always improve and be better, do the best that I can and push myself." According to a FOX release, Gordon has agreed to a multi-year contract that begins this season. He will serve as the in-race reporter during select Sprint Cup Series events for the remainder of the '15 season. He is one of four drivers so far to join FOX broadcasters in the booth for XFINITY Series races this season. Gordon's schedule saw him in the booth at Texas, Bristol and Talladega, where he joined host Adam Alexander and Michael Waltrip . "I was very nervous the first race in Texas and I was not feeling well; I was under the weather unfortunately," Gordon said. "That one I was more nervous. The next one (at Bristol) I was a little more comfortable and Talladega, I got to enjoy it. The racing was fun to talk about, and I thought the experience was enjoyable and I was a little more relaxed. I look forward to gaining that confidence and being … more relaxed." SHOP: Gordon gear Gordon will end a stellar driving career at the season’s end, having won premier series championships in 1995, '97-98 and '01. His 92 career victories are tops among active drivers and third on the series' all-time list, trailing only NASCAR Hall of Fame members Richard Petty (200) and David Pearson (105). In addition to his television work, he is expected to continue to contribute to Hendrick Motorsports , where he has spent his entire Sprint Cup career. "I had already made the decision that I was going to step away (from competing full-time) because I have some good options," Gordon, 43, said, "my role at Hendrick Motorsports , my role with (sponsor) Axalta, not to mention some other partners that have interest. "… I didn't know if it was going to happen to be honest. It was going back and forth for a while whether it was going to happen. Eventually all the right things came together." The relationship with Hendrick won't be an issue, he said, but added, "it's going to be something that I'm going to have to respect. "It's something I would never want to overstep the boundaries. I'm going to be conscious of it. But I also feel like it's going to help me stay current and up to speed on the knowledge of what is going on. As long as I'm not sharing too many details, I think just speaking in general, it's going to be a huge advantage for me to have that tie … to be able to bring some of that to the booth." Erik Shanks, FOX Sports President, COO and Executive Producer, called Gordon "not only a champion but an icon of a racing generation. "We are thrilled he has chosen to become a part of the FOX family and pair his experience with Darrell. "Each is credited with helping elevate NASCAR to the popularity it attained during in his respective era, and alongside Mike Joy, this duo will treat fans to unmatched insights each and every week." Gordon’s familiar red No. 24 Chevrolet will be driven by 2014 XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott beginning next season. FOX Sports is in the first year of a new, 10-year media rights agreement that consists of coverage of each season's first 16 Sprint Cup Series points races as well as the first 14 XFINITY Series events and all Camping World Truck Series races. NBC holds the rights to the season's final 20 Sprint Cup events. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Kyle Petty to lead group of motorcycle enthusiasts on coast-to-coast charity ride
Kyle Petty reflects on his son's dream to help others brought to life by the children who enjoy the Victory Junction Gang Camp.
Network's approach 'reinvigorates' him as son Adam's entry into the sport did Kyle Petty has joined the race-day broadcast team for NBC Sports Group, the organization announced Thursday, and is the latest figure to join the network's ever-growing cast of NASCAR experts in preparation for the 2015 season and beyond. Petty will work alongside Krista Voda, whose hiring was announced in late October, as an analyst on pre- and post-race shows surrounding NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series coverage. He will also remain a regular contributor to "NASCAR America" on NBCSN. "Kyle Petty brings a lifetime of experience to our team that is unmatched," said Sam Flood, executive producer, NBC Sports and NBCSN. "As a driver, team owner, philanthropist and multigenerational observer of the sport, he has seen it all, and has great perspectives across NASCAR's full spectrum." Petty joins a group that already includes race announcer Rick Allen and on-air analysts Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte, along with reporters Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast, Mike Massaro and Dave Burns. The son of Richard Petty and grandson of Lee Petty , both NASCAR Hall of Famers, Kyle grew up entrenched in the sport and made 829 starts in NASCAR's premier series. A guest on "The Morning Drive" on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio when the news was released, Petty joked, "Breaking news after I've been on "NASCAR America" on NBC for 23 weeks this year. Breaking news, I have a job next year." From his work on the nightly NBCSN show, Petty said the staff has "reinvigorated" him. He compared the network's fresh-eyed return to NASCAR to his late son's approach to racing when Adam became a national series competitor. "…when Adam came along, it was like I was seeing these race tracks for the first time because he was so excited," Petty said. "Even though he had been around the sport, he hadn't driven, and he was so excited. "(He would) tell me what the race track felt like or tell me what was going on at the race track or what he learned today at the race track. And I get that same feeling from these people at NBC. "They're just excited to be at the race track, and they're excited to be a part of the sport." FOX and NBC have exclusive NASCAR broadcasting rights, beginning next year. NBC will broadcast the final 20 Sprint Cup Series races, final 19 NASCAR XFINITY Series events, select NASCAR Regional & Touring Series events and other live content, beginning next year. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Drivers support decision to make Busch Chase eligible BUY: Rowdy Returns T-Shirt " RELATED: NASCAR grants Busch a Chase waiver NASCAR competitors testing at Dover International Speedway on Wednesday said they have no qualms with NASCAR granting fellow Kyle Busch a waiver that keeps his Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup eligibility intact. "We don't have sick days in our sport," six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson said during a lunch break at the 1-mile track. "If you get injured in our industry, the repercussions are so big. "Even though he is granted a waiver, you just look at what the team has been through – a couple of different drivers trying to develop the equipment and get it going, missed opportunities to win races. It's a huge penalty to have an injury. If you can come back and win a race, you deserve to be in the Chase." Busch, driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota, missed the first 11 points races after breaking his right leg and fracturing his left foot in a crash in the season-opening XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway . On Wednesday, NASCAR announced its decision to allow Busch to remain eligible, as long as he is in the top 30 in championship driver points standings following the season's 26th race. Busch announced on Tuesday that he would be back in the Sprint Cup car this weekend for Saturday's Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, PRN, Sirius XM NASCAR). MORE: Busch says All-Star event is 'perfect' for return Under the rules, to be eligible for the Chase drivers must attempt to complete in the 26 points races leading up to the Chase. The 16-team field is comprised of the season's winners and, if fewer than 16 drivers win at least one race, those highest in the points standings following the cutoff race. Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano ( Team Penske ) said, "It's not like he chose to skip races … that's the difference. "They don't want to see someone win a race and say 'alright, I'm good, I'm going to take four or five weeks off and enjoy it and not drive a race car.' … "Kyle is getting back in the car as soon as he possibly can to try to make the Chase. I think letting him do it is fine … that's the way it should be. It's not his fault he got hurt in the first place." The possibility that Busch wins one of the remaining 15 "regular-season" races isn't far-fetched. He has 29 career victories and has won one or more races for 10 consecutive seasons. Climbing his way into the top 30 in points is another matter. Busch would likely need an average finish of at least 16th or to find himself in the top 30 after 26 races. "I don't know what he has to do to get in the top 30," Logano said. "… I think it's well deserved; he's worked hard to get back in the race car and if we race him for a championship at the end of the year, great. I'm not going to say it he shouldn't have won it or something like that. "Those are the rules that we've got … with the Chase, that you're able to recover if something like that happens." David Ragan , who filled in for Busch in nine races, said the NASCAR announcement simply provided Busch an avenue to attempt to qualify. The rest will be up to the driver and the team, led by crew chief Adam Stevens. Ragan took over the reins of the car after Daytona (two-time Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton stepped in at DIS) while 18-year-old Erik Jones made his Sprint Cup debut last weekend at Kansas with the team. "He's just eligible, obviously," Ragan said of Busch. "He's still got to have a great season to make the Chase. He's got to win a race, which isn't easy to do, there are still a lot of good guys that haven't won a race in quite some time; he's got to score some pretty good points to get in the top 30. "I think NASCAR made the right call and Kyle should be happy with that; if he can meet that criteria and make the Chase, he deserves to be in. "If he can score those kind of points, be in the top 30 and win a race, (that's) a chase team and (he's) a Chase driver." • Johnson, Logano and Ragan were among 12 drivers taking part in the open test at Dover. Also on hand were Jamie McMurray ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates), Austin Dillon ( Richard Childress Racing ), Danica Patrick ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), Denny Hamlin ( Joe Gibbs Racing ), Casey Mears ( Germain Racing ), Greg Biffle ( Roush Fenway Racing ), Jeb Burton ( BK Racing ), Aric Almirola ( Richard Petty Motorsports ) and AJ Allmendinger ( JTG Daugherty Racing ). Logano, Hamlin, Patrick and Allmendinger took part in a two-day Goodyear tire test at Dover prior to Wednesday's team test. • Johnson said while Dover and Charlotte appear vastly different, there are things his Hendrick Motorsports team could pick up during the Wednesday test that might be beneficial at CMS. "We might not be able to learn and have the speed on the track today, but we'll go home with some ideas … some things that didn't work or did work and let our group at home stew on it," he said. "It'll help actually this weekend leading into Charlotte. Charlotte and Dover, oddly enough, do have very common sensations and loads and things through the race car. So this test … comes at a good time for us and we should be able to apply things to Charlotte." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Future seven-time champ finished 22nd in sport's longest race 40 years ago Dale Earnhardt wasn't a NASCAR legend in 1975. He hadn't earned the nickname "The Intimidator," won a Cup championship or even driven the iconic black No. 3 ride. Forty years ago, the man who would one day hoist seven Cup championship trophies was just a racer from Kannapolis, North Carolina, trying to compete in NASCAR's premier series. • • • Earnhardt strapped into his pale blue and yellow No. 8 Dodge for his first start in NASCAR’s premier series on May 25, 1975 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . The task that lay ahead of the 24-year-old driver was a daunting one, as Earnhardt was getting set to compete in the World 600 -- NASCAR’s longest race. Even for the most experienced wheelmen, the 600-mile event was a grueling mission. Coming from the back, Earnhardt lined up 33rd for the drop of the green flag. Only seven cars stood between Earnhardt and the tail end of the field, but as NASCAR would one day discover, a little thing like qualifying position never stopped "The Intimidator." In a race that spanned more than four hours, Earnhardt fought his way toward the front. He eventually finished a modest 22nd with the legendary Richard Petty taking the checkered that day. Earnhardt also finished one spot above someone who he would come to know very well one day -- his future car owner Richard Childress. • • • A 22nd-place finish wasn't something extraordinary. But for Earnhardt, it was the first spark in a blazing career that would forever change the world of NASCAR. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
See which drivers are set to compete in Saturday night's race Entry # Driver Owner Crew chief Manufacturer Sponsor 1 1 Jamie McMurray Felix Sabates Matt McCall 15 Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops 2 2 Brad Keselowski Roger Penske Paul Wolfe 15 Ford Miller Lite 3 4 Kevin Harvick Tony Stewart Rodney Childers 15 Chevrolet Hunt Brothers Pizza 4 5 Kasey Kahne Linda Hendrick Keith Rodden 15 Chevrolet Time Warner Cable 5 11 Denny Hamlin J D Gibbs Dave Rogers 15 Toyota FedEx Express 6 14 Tony Stewart Margaret Haas Chad Johnston 15 Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Arctic Cat 7 18 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Adam Stevens 15 Toyota M&M's Red Nose Day 8 19 Carl Edwards J D Gibbs Darian Grubb 15 Toyota ARRIS 9 20 Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Jason Ratcliff 15 Toyota Dollar General 10 22 Joey Logano Walter Czarnecki Todd Gordon 15 Ford Shell Pennzoil 11 24 Jeff Gordon Rick Hendrick Alan Gustafson 15 Chevrolet Axalta 12 31 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Luke Lambert 15 Chevrolet Cat/Quicken Loans 13 41 Kurt Busch Gene Haas Tony Gibson 15 Chevrolet Haas Automation 14 43 Aric Almirola Richard Petty Trent Owens 15 Ford Smithfield 15 47 A J Allmendinger Tad Geschickter Brian Burns 15 Chevrolet Kingsford 16 48 Jimmie Johnson Jeff Gordon Chad Knaus 15 Chevrolet Lowe's Patriotic 17 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr Rick Hendrick Greg Ives 15 Chevrolet Mountain Dew Baja Blast
Once an informal ride, event now sweeps through NASCAR
Wife of Hall of Fame engine builder passed away on Sunday
Richard and Kyle Petty honored for their work as Victory Junction turns 10 RELATED: Subscribe to NASCAR Illustrated Weave your way through Randleman, North Carolina, past its verdant pastures and timeworn gas stations, and you'll happen upon a magical place. About four miles outside town, a stone's throw from Richard Petty's residence, you’ll find Victory Junction. But it might as well be at the intersection of healing and hope. The 80-acre camp, situated on land that Petty roamed as a child before donating it a dozen years ago, celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. Since it opened in 2004, Victory Junction has enriched the lives of children with serious illnesses by providing life-changing camping experiences at no cost to them or their families. It has also honored the memory of Adam Petty in a most fitting way. Due to that incredible achievement, NASCAR Illustrated is naming Richard and Kyle Petty the 2014 Persons Of The Year. Although they would surely prefer the award go to the thousands of people who have helped turn Adam's idea into reality, we honor these two for their tireless efforts and singular contribution to children. Grandson of Richard and son of Kyle, Adam developed the idea of this camp. The notion came to him some two years before his death in an accident at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2000. Shortly after, the seed that Adam had planted started to take root. "This was just land that I grew up on," Richard Petty said recently. "We brought four-wheelers over here and went hunting and all this kind of stuff, so we knew the land. We had some boys from [ Richmond International Raceway developer] Hugh Hawthorne and he brought a bunch of guys down from Richmond. Dale Inman [long-time Petty crew chief] got on a bulldozer, never been on a bulldozer before, and just cleaned everything. For two years, they just cleaned everything trying to get things lined up." On a recent, resplendent autumn day, the King gazed out on the finished camp, taking stock of just how far it had come. "The place really looks good now because it looks like it belongs here," he said. "When we done it to begin with, it was pretty but it was naked. Now everything's hidden. Beautiful place, man." This is true both literally and figuratively. Victory Junction has welcomed more than 20,000 children and family members from all 50 states and several foreign countries in its first decade of operation. It has succeeded in its mission to create a place that fosters independence, confidence and continuous growth after camp to better the quality of life for children. Adam's legacy is palpable on these healing grounds. "I think you feel his presence," Kyle said of his son. "I've said it before: I see Adam in every child that comes through here in their smile. Adam had a huge smile. So when you see these kids laugh and smile, then yeah, you do feel closer." Victory Junction has always relied on and benefitted from the generosity of its extended NASCAR family. The Pettys started this journey with little more than Adam's vision and a belief that it was meant to be. There were only fields and dreams in the beginning. "We went out then to race fans, to the tracks, to NASCAR, everybody, and said, 'This is what we're gonna do,' " Richard said. "We started with no money; we just started it and said, 'We're gonna do it and they will come.' As you were able to show what you was doing here, then more people came and more people got involved." Evidence of that largesse is everywhere -- Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s Corral and Amphitheater, Kurt Busch 's Superdome, Michael Waltrip 's SportsCenter and Jimmie Johnson 's Victory Lanes bowling alley among others. "It's been that trickle-down effect," Kyle said. "The first two guys that really helped us here were Bobby Labonte and Dale Jarrett, really made a commitment and said, 'Let us do something.' Since then, just about everybody (among drivers). That's all cool and that was big and they built a big building and donated and gave their time and effort to raise their funds and awareness. "But it's the fan that sends $4.50 a month or $45 a year that really keeps the camp going. "So, that's the base. The base is the fan base. Just like the same guys, men and women and kids that go to race tracks all over and pull for Tony Stewart or Jimmie Johnson or Jeff Gordon . They're the people that keep camp alive." Victory Junction Chief Development Officer Mark Schumacher joined the camp this year and only recently realized that his professional and personal lives had crossed without him knowing years earlier. Schumacher's son, a cancer survivor, was a camper at Camp Boggy Creek in Orlando, Florida, in 1998. That year, wildfires ravaged the Daytona Beach area and forced NASCAR to postpone the July race to October. As fate would have it, the Pettys visited Camp Boggy Creek that fall and that is when Adam hatched his idea. He left thinking: Instead of visiting kids in hospitals, as the Pettys had done with the annual Kyle Petty Charity Ride to that point, why not bring the kids to a camp in North Carolina? Schumacher's son's experience -- both good and bad -- helped make the move to Victory Junction a no-brainer. "He said it was the best time of my life during the worst time of my life," Schumacher said. "If that doesn't say it for you, nothing does. We just all believe one thing: A child needs to be a child. This is where they can do that. We're just bringing to them what every other child enjoys. That is what drives everybody on this team." Forged out of loss and sadness, Victory Junction has blossomed over time into a place of great joy. Schumacher sees a common thread running through all the campers that visit. "I think the genesis of this camp and the building of this camp and the experience the campers have is looking at life without a rear-view mirror," he said. "There is nothing we can do to change things. We can't bring Adam Petty back; we can't say to some of these children that your disease, your disability is magically disappearing. But we're not focused on looking back; we're focused on going forward. "So what can we do to make a difference going forward in their lives and how can we make that tragic death of Adam Petty mean something? That's Victory Junction." In the company of others sharing the same condition, kids feel empowered to let their true personalities come out. It's a freedom that -- once discovered -- can liberate these kids from the constraints society places upon them. "When these kids are in school, that's what they're known by is their disease," Kyle said. "That's the little boy in the wheelchair. That's the little boy with spina bifida. That's the little girl that can't play because she has hemophilia or whatever it may be. They become known by their diseases. Here, they are known by their names. Their disease takes the backseat." Victory Junction Camp Director Chris Foster noted that for many campers -- particularly those from small towns or with unique diagnoses -- it's often the first time in their lives being in the presence of others that can relate to what they're going through. The relationships that are formed over the course of a week can last a lifetime. "To come here and spend a week at camp with six or seven other kids in the cabin that have the same diagnosis as you is something they've never experienced in their whole life, and they get to feel normal and just play and be a kid," Foster said. "We don't like to focus on the diagnosis at all. We really just like to focus on the child and allow them to have that great experience. But in the real world, sometimes they are labeled by diagnosis." Michael Deal, who made his sixth visit to Victory Junction this summer, is one of many campers that return to the camp each year. "One of my good friends behind me, Zach, we both have Chrohn's [a bowel disease]," Deal said. "It's just we've been coming here so many years and almost been in the same cabin every time. We're basically best friends. We've done everything together. It's just a lot of fun. Here you can just let it all out. At home, you're afraid if people are going to tease you or make fun of you. And here, you can just talk about it and everybody will understand." In its first decade, Victory Junction has helped thousands of kids like Deal understand, heal and move forward on their way to better lives. Richard Petty , fond of using the word "deal" in everyday conversation, invoked the word to describe what makes this place truly special. "The deal is when you think about being here 10 years and seeing 20,000 kids that wouldn't get a chance to do anything like this," he said. "They can't go to church camp or YMCA camp or anything like that. But they can come here for five or six days and they see people that -- they think they're the only one in the world that's afflicted like that -- they come here and there's another 125 kids just like them. They join the world." The patriarch of the Petty family noted that he’d been blessed with four children, 12 grandchildren and three great grandchildren. His singular success in stock car racing afforded fame, fortune and worldwide acclaim. And yet, at 77, you get the suspicion that what's been built in the rolling hills of Randleman will mean more to him in the end. "This is the place that I come and I look around and say, 'Thank you, good Lord, for letting me be in this position to try to help all these other kids,' " he said. "To me, that's basically what it's all about." For Kyle Petty , the loss of his son served as prelude to healing on a grander scale than any of the family members could have imagined. He was asked what Adam would think, how he might feel, about the number of lives that have been so positively impacted by Victory Junction since it opened. "It's been like dropping not a pebble in still water, it's been like dropping a boulder in still water with the ripple effect and how it continues to just overwhelm you," he said. "I think from that perspective, he would be like us. He would just be humbled by the fact that the boulder that was dropped in the water was him, but when you look at it, the ripple effect still continues this much later." SUBSCRIBE NOW!