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NASCAR Hall of Fame: Alan Kulwicki
NASCAR driver Alan Kulwicki was the 1986 Rookie of the Year and 1992 NSCS Champion. He was also famous for his 'Polish' victory lap.
Student of the sport, Ty Majeski cramming for what's Next
RELATED: NASCAR Next 2016-17 class unveiled " Meet the 2016-17 Next class When Ty Majeski got the call informing him that he'd be part of the new NASCAR Next class of up-and-coming drivers, he was actually hitting the books -- or in his words, "crunching before an exam" -- in his University of Wisconsin-Madison dorm room. For the third-year student pursuing a mechanical engineering degree, it was the perfect study break. "It kind of cut into my studying time," Majeski said with a laugh Wednesday during a gathering with his 2016-17 Next classmates. "But when they called me and said, 'We need you in Charlotte next week,' it was just very surreal." But his debut as a member of NASCAR Next wasn't the only major development in the 21-year-old Majeski's racing career this week. Monday, Roush Fenway Racing announced that they had signed the Wisconsin native to a driver development contract. MORE: Full NASCAR Next coverage The deal helped provide some direction for one of the most talked-about short track racers in the country. Even before Tuesday's announcement, Dale Earnhardt Jr . had identified Majeski as a driver to watch in a tweet, and his name came up again during an appearance by reigning Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. "It's definitely been crazy," Majeski said. "Last week at this time, I didn't think we were going to announce the Roush Fenway deal. I think there was kind of some media buzz a bit -- Kyle Busch talked about me on (SiriusXM) NASCAR Radio and I think Roush Fenway wanted to announce it, and it lit a fire under them to get that out there, which is all good. Definitely been a surreal week, and just kind of weird that it wound up panning out that way." As part of the deal, Majeski will drive five ARCA Series races for Roulo Bros. Racing, the same team that helped groom Chris Buescher for a career in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. That partial schedule will mesh with continuing school work, his Super Late Model slate and competition in the ARCA Midwest Tour, where he's won two championships. His accomplishments -- including Super Late Model triumphs this year in the New Smyrna World Series and the Rattler -- might make it tempting to forgo a college education to focus full-time on racing. But Majeski is following in the footsteps of another Wisconsonite -- former premier-series champion Alan Kulwicki -- in earning his degree. "It goes both directions," says Majeski, who participated in the Kulwicki Driver Development Program last season. "I've got to have something to fall back on. Obviously, nothing's for certain in this sport. We see it every day that things change by the day. You're never locked into anything and I need to have something to fall back on. I've always wanted to be involved in racing, so if it doesn't pan out, I'm hoping to be an engineer for a team someday and keep racing in my life."
Throwback Thursday: Alan Kulwicki's Final Lap
Alan Kulwicki died in an airplane crash on Thursday April 1, 1993 traveling from an appearance in Knoxville at Hooters aboard a Hooters corporate plane flight across Tennessee before the Sunday spring race at Bristol.
Nominee for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class
Food City-Bristol partnership roots run deep
RELATED: Bristol quick facts " Full weekend schedule BRISTOL, Tenn. – It began with a promotion to help former series sponsor RJ Reynolds sell product. Today, 25 years later, the Food City sponsorship of Bristol Motor Speedway 's spring NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event is as strong as ever. It is the second-longest race entitlement in NASCAR – trailing only the Coca-Cola sponsorship of the 600-mile May race at Charlotte Motor Speedway . "We started in 1992, followed up the Valleydale 500," Steve Smith , Food City President and CEO, said Thursday at BMS. "That was back when it was still Winston Cup. We worked with RJ Reynolds on a promotion ... that was the whole genesis of us getting involved in racing." Initially, it wasn't a long-term deal, but by the time the next season had arrived, officials with the grocery chain were ready and willing to return. "We signed the (initial) agreement and we had a great first race," Smith said. " Alan Kulwicki actually won our first race in 1992; I remember that well. We were off and running." Kulwicki , an owner/driver, went on to win the series title that season. Tragically, the following year he was killed in a plane crash while en route to BMS to defend his Food City 500 title. Smith said his company, founded by his father Jack, became involved at the right time in the sport, when the fan base was on the upswing, TV coverage was gaining traction and sponsorship dollars were flowing. "What happened with Bristol was really indicative of what was happening with NASCAR, it was just growing and growing," he said. "Five years later Bruton (Smith, Speedway Motorsports Inc. founder) bought the track and things just really started to escalate here with the amenities and the things that they did for the race fans. ... Folks love coming here, they love the racing environment, and they love, I think, the southern hospitality. "We try, as a sponsor, to do a lot of things to get them in here a little bit early, whether it's Food City Race Night or other events to really make it a full week of fun for the race fan." In addition to the Sprint Cup race sponsorship, the company also sponsors the August NASCAR XFINITY Series event at Bristol. While there have been times that spending money on race entitlement rights might have been questionable, Smith said "I don't think there's ever been a time when we really thought about dropping the race. "Now, we've negotiated pretty tough with Speedway Motorsports because obviously the fan base dropped a little bit, the viewership dropped a little bit, but when you've got folks like (former BMS General Manager) Jeff Byrd and (current GM) Jerry Caldwell that you know are going to do everything they can to give the race fan, our customers, that experience, it makes it pretty easy to continue to spend the dollars and continue to keep our associates that work in our stores involved in racing, and that's a big part of it, too." The return for Food City, he said, comes in many forms. No. 1 is name recognition. "We're a relatively small regional company -- we're in four states, 135 stores, 16,000 associates," Smith said. "It sounds like a lot but in the scheme of things compared to some of our competition, it's not. But it's a sense of pride for our associates, our customers who know we sponsor racing. "NASCAR fans are very loyal, they're loyal to the brands that are involved whether it's Food City or other consumer products sponsors. We think it helps us sell more products and bring more people in to our stores." In February of 2014, Food City and BMS officials announced a five-year extension for the naming rights of the track's spring Sprint Cup race. "At the end of the day, it's hard to put a financial statement together that proves that it's a great spend, but we've been doing good ever since we been sponsoring racing so we don't want to stop there," Smith said.
Regan Smith's Darlington look honors past champion
RELATED: Buy Darlington tickets " '16 throwback schemes " SHOP: Smith gear Regan Smith and Tommy Baldwin Racing have unveiled the throwback paint scheme that Smith's No. 7 Road Rippers/Toy State Chevrolet will sport at Darlington Raceway over Labor Day weekend. The paint scheme is a tribute to 1992 premier series champion Alan Kulwicki , who passed away in an airplane crash in 1993. From 1987 until his passing, Kulwicki drove the No. 7, earning all five of his wins with that number. In a team release Smith said of honoring Kulwicki with the paint scheme, "It is a neat deal for me, I grew up watching him, Davey (Allison) and Bill (Elliott) battle it out for the '92 championship. I am really looking forward to getting the No. 7 Road Rippers/Toy State Chevrolet on track Labor Day weekend." The Bojangles' Southern 500 is set for Sept. 4 at 6 p.m. ET (NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
NASCAR reveals nominees for 2017 Hall of Fame class
RELATED: Five more names on list of 2017 Hall of Fame nominees " MORE: See the 2017 Hall of Fame nominees DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 24, 2016) -- Legendary engine builders, crew chiefs, owners, drivers and the most recognizable voice in motorsports. The talents, eras and levels may differ, but all share a common thread. They shaped NASCAR, and on Wednesday, they were recognized as nominees for the highest honor the sport bestows -- enshrinement into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. NASCAR today announced the 20 nominees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame's Class of 2017, as well as the five nominees for the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. Included among the list are five first-time nominees, all legends who made excellence a habit through their various contributions to the sport. Among them are record-holding four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday Jr .; the man with the most car owner wins in NASCAR national series history with 322, Jack Roush; former all-time consecutive starts leader Ricky Rudd; legendary motorsports broadcasting pioneer Ken Squier; and three-time premier series champion engine builder and three-time Daytona 500 -winning crew chief Waddell Wilson. For a full list of nominees, please see below. The nominees were selected by a nominating committee consisting of representatives from NASCAR and the NASCAR Hall of Fame, track owners from both major facilities and historic short tracks, and the media. The committee's votes were tabulated by accounting firm Ernst & Young. From the list of 20 NASCAR Hall of Fame nominees, five inductees will be elected by the NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel, which includes a nationwide fan vote on NASCAR.com. Voting Day for the 2017 class will be Wednesday, May 25. Added to this year's list of Landmark Award nominees is Janet Guthrie -- the first female driver to compete in a NASCAR premier series superspeedway race. The four returning nominees for the Landmark Award are H. Clay Earles, Raymond Parks, Ralph Seagraves and Squier (more on each below). Potential Landmark Award recipients include competitors or those working in the sport as a member of a racing organization, track facility, race team, sponsor, media partner or being a general ambassador for the sport through a professional or non-professional role. Award winners remain eligible for NHOF enshrinement. Following are the 20 nominees for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, listed alphabetically: Buddy Baker , won 19 times in NASCAR's premier (now Sprint Cup ) series, including the Daytona 500 and Southern 500. Red Byron , first NASCAR premier series champion, in 1949. Richard Childress , 11-time car owner champion in NASCAR's three national series. Ray Evernham , three-time NASCAR premier series championship crew chief. Ray Fox , legendary engine builder, crew chief and car owner. Rick Hendrick , 14-time car owner champion in NASCAR's three national series. Ron Hornaday , four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion. Harry Hyde , 1970 NASCAR premier series championship crew chief. Alan Kulwicki , 1992 NASCAR premier series champion. Mark Martin , 96-time race winner in NASCAR national series competition. Hershel McGriff , 1986 NASCAR west series champion. Raymond Parks , NASCAR's first champion car owner. Benny Parsons , 1973 NASCAR premier series champion. Larry Phillips , only five-time NASCAR weekly series national champion. Jack Roush , five-time car owner champion in NASCAR’s three national series. Ricky Rudd , won 23 times in NASCAR's premier series, including the 1997 Brickyard 400. Ken Squier , legendary radio and television broadcaster; inaugural winner/namesake of Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. Mike Stefanik , winner of record-tying nine NASCAR championships. Waddell Wilson , won three NASCAR premier series championships as an engine builder. Robert Yates , won NASCAR premier series championship as both an engine builder and owner. The five nominees for the Landmark Award, listed alphabetically, are: H. Clay Earles , founder of Martinsville Speedway . Janet Guthrie , the first female to compete in a NASCAR premier series superspeedway race. Raymond Parks , NASCAR's first champion car owner. Ralph Seagraves, formed groundbreaking Winston-NASCAR partnership as executive with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Ken Squier , legendary radio and television broadcaster; inaugural winner/namesake of Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. NASCAR Hall of Fame Nomination Eligibility -- Drivers who have competed in NASCAR for at least 10 years and been retired for two years are eligible for nomination to the NHOF. Previously, eligible drivers must have been retired for three years. -- In addition, drivers who have competed for a minimum of 10 years and reached their 55th birthday on or before Dec. 31 of the year prior to the nominating year are immediately eligible for the NHOF. -- Any driver who has competed for 30 or more years in NASCAR competition by Dec. 31 of the year prior to the nominating year is automatically eligible, regardless of age. -- Drivers may continue to compete after reaching any of the aforementioned milestones without compromising eligibility for nomination or induction. -- For non-drivers, individuals must have worked at least 10 years in the NASCAR industry. -- Individuals may also be considered who made significant achievements in the sport, but left the sport early due to a variety of circumstances. The 22-person Nominating Committee: NOMINATION COMMITTEE NASCAR Hall of Fame: Executive Director Winston Kelley; Historian Buz McKim. NASCAR Officials: Chairman / CEO Brian France; Vice Chairman Jim France; Vice Chairman of NASCAR Mike Helton; Chief Operating Officer Brent Dewar; Executive Vice President / Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell; Executive Vice President / Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps; Senior Vice President, Competition Scott Miller; Senior Vice President, Marketing & Driver Services Jill Gregory. Track Owners/Operators: International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa France Kennedy; Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell; Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage; Atlanta Motor Speedway President Ed Clark; former Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Tony George; Dover Motorsports CEO Denis McGlynn; Pocono Raceway board of directors member Looie McNally; Bowman Gray Stadium operator Dale Pinilis; Holland Motorsports Complex operator Ron Bennett; Rockford Speedway operator Jody Deery; West Coast representative Ken Clapp. Media: Mike Joy, FOX.
Five new names on list of 2017 Hall of Fame nominees
RELATED: NASCAR reveals nominees for 2017 Hall of Fame class " MORE: See the 2017 Hall of Fame nominees Longtime NASCAR team owner Jack Roush and four-time Camping World Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday highlight five new nominees to be considered for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2017. Roush and Hornaday join former premier series driver Ricky Rudd, winning engine builder Waddell Wilson and television broadcaster/journalist Ken Squier as first-time nominees. The NASCAR Hall of Fame Nominating Committee met last week in Daytona Beach, Florida, to determine this year's list of nominees. All 15 of those on the 2016 list that were not chosen for induction return on the 2017 ballot. Roush, 73, has been a car owner in NASCAR's premier series since 1988, and the Roush Fenway Racing organization has earned 135 Sprint Cup victories as well as two series championships. Four RFR drivers have won five XFINITY Series titles while the organization also sports one CWTS crown. Hornaday, 57, won Truck Series titles in 1996, '98, 2007 and '09. When he stepped aside at the end of the 2014 season, his 51 career victories were tops for the series, a mark that still stands. Rudd earned 23 premier series wins in a career that spanned three decades. One of the top road racers of his generation, Rudd scored NASCAR wins for some of the sport's top team owners, including Richard Childress, Bud Moore and Rick Hendrick. Winning the 1997 Brickyard 400 was notable as Rudd managed the feat as an owner/driver. Wilson's engines took drivers to more than 100 premier series victories, while as a crew chief, he won 19 times, including three times in the Daytona 500 . Squier began his broadcasting career at age 12 (his father owned and operated a television station) and was part of the first crew to call the Daytona 500 live (in 1979). The Squier-Hall Award, created in 2012, honors the contributions of media to the success of the sport and is named in honor of Squier and longtime Motor Racing Network broadcaster Barney Hall. The Nominating Committee also determined the list of five candidates for the Landmark Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to NASCAR. New to the 2017 list is Janet Guthrie, the first woman to qualify for and compete in the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500 . She joins Martinsville (Va.) Speedway track founder H. Clay Earles, former car owner Raymond Parks, Ralph Seagraves of former series sponsor RJ Reynolds and its Sports Marketing Enterprises marketing arm, and Squier. The 15 returning nominees among those to be considered for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame for 2017: Buddy Baker -- Nineteen career premier series wins. Red Byron -- NASCAR's first strictly stock champion. Richard Childress -- Currently boasts 105 premiers series wins and six championships as a car owner. Ray Evernham -- Won three premier series titles as crew chief for Jeff Gordon ; as an owner, worked with Dodge when the manufacturer re-entered NASCAR. Ray Fox -- Car owner, engine builder and crew chief; won 14 times as an owner. Rick Hendrick -- Team owner whose Hendrick Motorsports organization has won 11 premier series titles and 240 races. Harry Hyde -- For two decades (1960s though '80s), Hyde was one of the most successful crew chiefs in the garage; helped guide Bobby Isaac to the 1970 premier series title. Alan Kulwicki -- Won premier series title in 1992 as an owner/driver. Mark Martin -- Took runner-up honors in championship battle five times; ended career with 40 premier series wins, 49 in XFINITY Series and seven in Trucks. Herschel McGriff -- A four-time winner based on the West Coast, McGriff enjoyed one of the longest NASCAR driving careers in NASCAR; former Winston West Series champion. Raymond Parks -- First team owner to win strictly stock championship (with driver Red Byron). Benny Parsons -- Former premier series champion who enjoyed a successful second career in the broadcast booth. Larry Phillips -- Legendary short track ace from the Midwest; won five NASCAR national Weekly Series titles and seven regional championships. Mike Stefanik -- Seven-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion. Robert Yates -- Engine builder and championship winning team owner (57 wins). Voting Panel and Nominating Committee members will meet May 25 to determine the 2017 Hall of Fame class.
Jimmie Johnson wins at Atlanta, ties Dale Earnhardt with 76 wins
RELATED: Full race results " Standings " SHOP: Johnson gear HAMPTON, Ga. -- With wrecks erupting behind him, Jimmie Johnson took the checkered flag in overtime under caution in Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway -- and then he remembered. Almost lost in the euphoria of Johnson's second straight victory at the 1.54-mile track was the realization that, with his 76th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory, he had tied the late Dale Earnhardt for seventh on the all-time wins list. But as the No. 48 Chevrolet rolled around the track on its Victory Lap, heading in a clockwise direction a la Alan Kulwicki , the six-time champion thrust his arm out the driver's side window with a three-finger salute to the crowd, acknowledging the bond he now shares with The Intimidator. RELATED: Watch Johnson's Victory Lap salute "It's such an honor," Johnson said. "With the chaos at the end and the crash and wondering about overtime and how it worked these days, I kind of lost sight of that. "I remembered it on my Victory Lap coming down, and I had to come by and throw a '3' out the window to pay my respects to the man. There's a huge void in my career that I never had a chance to race with him, but at least I was able to tie his record." Dale Earnhardt Jr . ran second to his teammate, followed by Kyle Busch , who started 39th after his qualifying time was disallowed because the rear toe of his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota exceeded NASCAR's tolerances. Polesitter Kurt Busch was fourth, and Carl Edwards came home fifth. Johnson's fifth victory at Atlanta probably wouldn't have occurred had crew chief Chad Knaus not made a strategic call that wrested control of the race from Kevin Harvick , whose dominant No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet led a race-high 131 of the 330 laps. As soon as Johnson hit the fuel window that would get him to the end of the race, Knaus brought the No. 48 Chevy to pit road for four tires and gas on Lap 276, nine laps before Harvick pitted from the lead. With the nine-lap advantage on fresh tires -- not to mention issues with the left front tire that cost Harvick more than three seconds on pit road -- Johnson was 13.631 seconds ahead of Harvick's No. 4 when the green-flag pit stop cycle was completed on Lap 287. "Definitely a gutsy call," Johnson said. "It was just a great team effort. The No. 4 ( Kevin Harvick ) car was awfully tough and it was going to take some strategy to get by him. When he told me to whip it as hard as I could there (after the lap 276 pit stop), I just felt like I was going to take too much life out of the tires. But, it worked. And I got rolling around the top and got to where I got this Lowe's Chevy in Victory Lane." But it wasn't easy. Harvick cut into Johnson's advantage, reducing it to 5.1 seconds before the speeds of the top two cars leveled out. When Ryan Newman blew a left rear tire and spun at the end of the frontstretch with two laps left in the regulation distance of 325 laps, the eight lead-lap cars came to pit road for tires. Johnson held the lead, with Harvick second and Kyle Busch third. But on the overtime restart, Harvick had trouble in the outside lane and Johnson surged ahead, pursued by Kyle Busch and Earnhardt. A wild wreck on the backstretch caused the caution that ended the race under yellow five laps beyond its scheduled distance. "We had issues about the last three runs," said Harvick, who suffered late-race brake problems and finished sixth. "I had to start driving the car different. It just required a little bit different handling. And then we had a slow pit stop there. "We got way behind, and the No. 48 was way out front, and I had to drive the car really hard and got the right rear (tire) burned up. We just didn't execute today, but everybody on our Jimmy John's/Busch Chevrolet hung in there all day, and we'll keep at it." Notes: Rookie Chase Elliott finished eighth in his first race experience with NASCAR's 2016 lower-downforce rules package. ... The race stayed green for the first 210 laps, a track record from the start of a Sprint Cup event. The caution that ended the race was the third of the afternoon. ... After his second straight third-place finish, Kyle Busch leads the series standings by three points over Daytona 500 runner-up Martin Truex Jr . Harvick is third, four points behind Busch.
Cain: My dinner with Jeff Gordon in 1992
RELATED: Gordon's teammates plan tribute " Final 24 paint scheme My first meeting with Jeff Gordon came in Atlanta in 1992, two nights before what would be a sport-changing maiden NASCAR Winston Cup Series start for the then 20-year-old. I remember he was dressed casually in jeans and yes, sported "that" mustache. I met him as part of a larger group of friends in a bustling Atlanta hotel lobby. He was without a single "handler" and since he knew a couple people in our group, wondered if he could tag along with us. The plan was to do a group dinner then later stop by a sports bar to watch the big fight between Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe. The young Gordon looked as much like a fan as a driver. You'd never know he competed in NASCAR's Grand National division. Even less apparent was that he would be making his first big Cup start that weekend, except for the occasional, "Hey Jeff," which he acknowledged in a downplayed manner. I still have a large button with a photo of Jeff and a friend of mine after we jokingly convinced the staff at Benihana's that night it was Gordon's birthday. It wasn't, but we got free dessert and the funny button. I had reported on a lot of IMSA sports car racing leading into this assignment for the Tampa Tribune , but this was my first big Cup race, too. Our primary racing beat writer, Herb Branham, was focusing his weekend coverage on "the big story" -- Richard Petty's last start. I was to handle the more routine race story topped by the championship. Looking back at it, I discovered that I never even mentioned Gordon in that story. He crashed and finished 31st. To be perfectly honest, my background was primarily stick-and-ball and I had no idea who Gordon was, especially compared to NASCAR's bigger names like Petty, Davey Allison, Bill Elliott and Alan Kulwicki , who won the title that weekend. Just to have a chance at this first big-time racing opportunity, I had to make myself valuable all around to the newspaper. So I offered to stop in Atlanta earlier in the week for a lengthy and candid interview with the Tampa Bay Lightning's big news, a woman goalie, Manon Rheaume. Manon was great. But NASCAR was better and 22 years later, I'm still here. I remember congratulating Gordon the day after our dinner on his "best of second round qualifying," but honestly had no idea of the fabulous racing legend this modest, fun, personable young man would become. He eventually lost the mustache, but never the mojo. RELATED: Photos of Gordon through the years Gordon is the first major NASCAR champion that I have covered from the very beginning to the very end, which comes with his retirement this weekend after the 2015 season finale in Homestead, Florida -- where he stands an impressive 1-in-4 chance to win a fifth title. And while Gordon has accomplished so much, transformed the sport and truly deserves the opportunity to possibly leave as a champion, it will feel very odd to me -- and to so many -- to say goodbye now. Gordon was the first NASCAR driver I had any lengthy conversation with or wrote any substantial stories about. Considering that now, after his four championships and 93 victories, it is something I will treasure as a reporter. And truly it started with what a down-to-earth person I have always considered Gordon to be. I'm fortunate to say I was there for so many of Gordon's firsts -- the Brickyards, the Daytona 500 s, the championships ... and the fabulous head-to-heads with Dale Earnhardt. RELATED: Gordon's top 24 NASCAR moments I still have the February 1995 edition of "Beckett Racing Monthly" magazine with Gordon's first cover photo and my story on him featured inside. I honestly hadn't read it in more than 10-15 years. The headline is "Flash Gordon" and talks about the amazing statistics he had already posted only two full seasons into what is now surely a Hall of Fame career. He was already truly one of the most popular drivers on the circuit -- later that very year winning his first Cup title -- and I remember his public relations team wanting me to send a letter in advance with a list of potential questions. I didn't. And Gordon was still spectacular. As impressive as his success on track had already been -- the 1993 Rookie of the Year, a win in his first Gatorade Twin 125, and then in the Coca-Cola 600 and the inaugural 1994 Brickyard 400 -- Gordon was genuinely humbled and amazed at the fan reaction in my story. "When I get a second to sit down, which isn't very often, I think back to when I got a chance to meet Charles Barkley or Chris Webber,'' Gordon said in the article. "That was a big thrill for me and they weren't rude, they were really nice. That made a big impact on me and I try to put myself in that same position. If I have an extra second, I always try to give it to the fans, especially the kids.'' And he always has. This weekend in particular, Gordon will be honored, acknowledged, remembered and cheered for more than two decades of transforming this sport on track and off it. As he said in that 1994 article, "I'm just a race car driver looking to make a living.'' And so he has. So, well done.