Jeff Gordon will make his 46th and likely final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday. Take a look at his career highlights at the 1.5-mile track.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- There's the winged sprint car, the midget entry and the Silver Crown machine. The rainbow-colored Chevrolets are on the other side of the room, separated by years and a handful of small tables adorned with No. 24 racing memorabilia. But the car that catches his eye is the white Pontiac stock car. It's the No. 67 and other than the Outback Steakhouse logo across the hood, it's vanilla plain by today's standards. Jeff Gordon , a four-time NASCAR premier series champion, hasn't seen this car in probably two decades or more. But it was one of the few that helped kick-start his stock car racing career. "That's where I got my very first start," Gordon , 44, tells the crowd during Wednesday's opening of "24: A Tribute to Jeff Gordon " at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Racing folks know Jeff Gordon the NASCAR star. They know the Hendrick Motorsports driver that, paired with crew chief Ray Evernham, was a force in the series throughout the 1990s. But before he was champion, before he began piling up wins (he's at 92 and counting), he was Jeff Gordon the former open-wheel racer who wanted to try his hand in stock cars. And the No. 67 was where it all began. "There are some incredible stories that belong to that car," said Gordon . "But most importantly was I sat on the outside front row at Rockingham in that car and the rest is kind of history. That's what led to the phone call from (team owner) Bill Davis which … led to the phone call from Rick Hendrick and here we are today." Impressed with Gordon's efforts during a stint at the Buck Baker Driving School, team owner Hugh Connerty offered the youngster a chance to drive his car in what’s now the XFINITY Series. That took place in 1990. Gordon made three attempts, failing to qualify at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway . In between, at Rockingham, he qualified the car on the outside of the front row. "Unfortunately I have the kind of memory that goes immediately to I remember wrecking on Lap 23," said Gordon . "We actually tried to run at Charlotte first; qualifying got rained out. We were pretty fast. I knew the car had good speed in it. Then we went to Rockingham and I knew it had good speed in it that day, but we weren't anywhere close to thinking we were going to be on the outside front row. Laid down a great lap and I think everyone was surprised. "Even today if you really think about it, if somebody comes along and they're not in one of the top cars or with one of the top teams out there, you've not heard a lot about them, and all of a sudden they wind up on the front row, it's going to draw your attention and you're going to wonder who this person is. "For me I was fortunate that wrecking on Lap 23 didn't take away from being on the front row. I just remember getting some huge phone calls after that. I didn't realize how big it was as the time, I knew I was excited that we were on the front row, but I had no idea what it was going to do for my career." The exhibit, which features nine cars raced by Gordon during his career, is scheduled to run through Jan. 10 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
RELATED: Gordon by the numbers at Charlotte As Jeff Gordon 's farewell tour winds down, so do the number of chances to scratch the win column in his final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The four-time champion sees opportunities in the seven races that remain, however, even as a bigger goal looms. Gordon took his rightful place among the 12 title-eligible Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Tuesday, just days before the three-race Contender Round kicks off with this Saturday night's Bank of America 500 (7 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN, SiriusXM). A victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend would provide a bookend for his career at the site of his first major-league triumph, back in 1994. With 29 races in the books, Gordon is facing down the prospect of a winless final season, but he said a title ring for the thumb would be the ultimate trump card. "I mean, I'll be disappointed, but at the same time, I'm a realistic person and we've rarely put ourselves in position and had the cars and the team to do that," Gordon said. "I think certainly Martinsville's high on my list of opportunities, and I feel like we've been able to win there the last several years. I've got to make sure I go in there and do my job because I think we're very capable of winning there. "To me, the championship overrides that, and even if we don't win a race and win the championship, that'll supersede the win." Gordon qualified for the 10-race postseason on the basis of points and advanced through the first three-race series with finishes of 14th (Chicagoland), seventh (New Hampshire) and 12th (Dover). Passing the Challenger Round test mirrored the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 team's steady effort from the regular season, when Gordon placed in the top 10 in half of the 26 races. With the points re-racked for the next round, Gordon said having equal footing in the standings makes the championship race a new day for all 12 finalists, icing on the season-ending cake. "I feel like it's all bonus from here on out," Gordon said. "We haven't had the best year, but we've done a great job at fighting and overcoming things and here we are with having -- up to the Chase -- not a very great performance, and yet we're in the Chase. And I think we showed in Chicago that we've improved our mile-and-a-half program. Let's hope that continues these next two weeks, but it's full-on reset. "We came into this thing very far behind in bonus points and now we're on an even playing field as far as points are concerned. You've got to just play to your strengths, and I think our strengths are that we're very consistent, we've got a lot of fight in us, and we've had to fight through a lot of things this year, so we're very experienced at that." Gordon exited the title hunt last year in the Eliminator Round, the final three-race series before the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Though the current Chase format is only in its second year, Gordon said the pressure "only intensifies from here" as the season winds down. One team that has risen in close correlation with the stress levels has been the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 outfit helmed by defending series champion Kevin Harvick , who converted a must-win situation last weekend at Dover to keep his repeat hopes alive. Though Gordon said the focus remains in-house for the No. 24 bunch for the time being, it's been hard to ignore the accomplishments from Harvick & Co. "We're in a category right now where it's really just focus on how we get ourselves to Homestead and then see who we need to worry about, but the first step is just that," Gordon said. "But I will say consistently every weekend, he's at the top of board, he's the guy that I think everybody's measuring themselves off of, but in all honesty I think he's in a whole 'nother category right now."
Relive the 2007 Bank of America 500 where Jeff Gordon held off Clint Bowyer to earn his fifth victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Dale Earnhardt Jr . has picked up a new primary sponsorship for 2016, although the brand is hardly new to Hendrick Motorsports . Axalta, a longtime sponsor of Jeff Gordon 's No. 24 Chevrolet, will switch its primary support to the No. 88 of Earnhardt Jr. next season with Gordon retiring. The coatings company also expanded its number of races as primary sponsor from 10 to 13, and the deal between the two has been extended to 2018. "Axalta and Hendrick Motorsports have an incredible story," Earnhardt Jr. said in a Hendrick release. "For me, it's meaningful to work with a sponsor that's been so committed to our sport and has such a rich history in NASCAR. Continuing the partnership is special for all of us, and I'm already excited about what the car will look like. I'm really looking forward to the opportunity." The partnership between Axalta and Hendrick is in its 23rd full season. "We began a journey 23 years ago with Hendrick Motorsports and a young driver named Jeff Gordon . Eighty poles, 92 wins and four championships later, we are proud of the run we've had with Jeff ," said Nigel Budden, Axalta vice president and head of its North America business via a Hendrick release. "Now, we are delighted to continue our relationship with Hendrick Motorsports and to adorn the hood of Dale Earnhardt Jr .’s No. 88 Chevy SS with the Axalta logo in 2016. As our slogan says, 'We Paint Winners,' and by joining Dale we will continue to do so for years to come." Chase Elliott , the 19-year-old defending NASCAR XFINITY Series champ, will take over Gordon's car next year.
Fan has house painted to match 'Rainbow 24' The photo below showed up on R/NASCAR with little context, but one thing is crystal clear -- this has to be Jeff Gordon 's biggest fan. We've seen fans get tattoos, hair cuts, even model their car after the four-time Sprint Cup Series champion, but this? Molding your house after Gordon's famed No. 24 DuPont paint scheme takes commitment -- and guts. Props, mystery Jeff - Gordon -house-person.
Relive 2014's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway as Jeff Gordon punches his ticket into the Contender Round in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
RELATED: Full coverage of Gordon's final season Jeff Gordon revealed the paint scheme he will run in his final race as a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver on FOX Sports 1's "NASCAR Race Hub" on Tuesday evening. Appearing on the FS1 program, Gordon pulled the cover off his No. 24 Chevrolet SS to display a silver and flame-themed race car. Here it is-- @AxaltaRacing 's final paint scheme of '15 & @JeffGordonWeb 's final career paint scheme! #WePaintWinners pic.twitter.com/Y2DszpBXu4 — Axalta Racing (@AxaltaRacing) September 22, 2015 Here it is! @JeffGordonWeb 's final paint scheme, the @AxaltaRacing Chevy SS he'll race @HomesteadMiami . pic.twitter.com/jygNNpc2Hl — Hendrick Motorsports (@TeamHendrick) September 22, 2015 Here it is. The final @AxaltaRacing @TeamChevy for @HomesteadMiami ! What do you think? #NASCAR #Team24 pic.twitter.com/6D108GpHd5 — Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) September 22, 2015 The four-time champion will run the special paint scheme in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup finale Ford EcoBoost 400 event at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Be sure to tune in to see Gordon wrap up his Hall of Fame-worthy career on Sunday, Nov. 22 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC. RELATED: Gordon has 'No plans to run any races after this year' This weekend, Gordon is set to become NASCAR's "Iron Man" by making his 789th consecutive start in the Sprint Cup Series when the series comes to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Sylvania 300 (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Gordon tied Ricky Rudd's mark of 788 consecutive starts last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway . Gordon will be joining FOX's NASCAR broadcast crew in 2016 upon the completion of his historic career. To read more about his role with FOX, click here .
RELATED: Chicagoland results " Gordon ties 'Ironman' record JOLIET, Ill. -- Jeff Gordon tied one mark but the title he was really after slipped away like a worn set of Goodyear tires. On a final restart. With the race on the line. "It's the best I've run all year long," Gordon said, trying to find the silver lining in the dark cloud of a 14th-place finish Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway . It was the opening race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup , the first of 10 stops that will determine this year's champion. It's the last Chase for Gordon , who will step aside at year's end. He's 44 and nearly all of that time has been spent behind the wheel of a race car. He equaled former driver Ricky Rudd's record for consecutive starts, at 788, when he fired up the engine on his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Sunday. PHOTOS: Gordon through the years He led laps in the myAFibRisk.com 400 -- 41 by day's end. But a decision to stay out under caution, wagering four used tires and track position might be enough to take him back to victory lane for a 93rd time, failed to materialize. Second alongside Kurt Busch ( Stewart-Haas Racing ) on the Lap 263 restart, Gordon was unable to hold his line as the field raced across the start/finish line and off into Turn 1 on the 1.5-mile track. His Chevrolet pushed up the track, higher and higher, losing momentum and losing positions. Nothing else could be done but to gather it back in and hold off those he could during the final five-lap dash. Busch and Denny Hamlin also chose not to pit prior to the final restart. Hamlin shot underneath Gordon and raced past Busch to take the lead in Turns 1 and 2 and there was no catching the Joe Gibbs Racing driver after that. "I was just trying to hold pace with Kurt; I knew I had Denny behind me on older tires as well," Gordon said later. "I was somewhat encouraged for that. (Denny) got a good run on me. I blocked him. He's pushing me and we're on the apron. I felt like I did a good job, I just came up off the apron a little too early. "He was just able to motor right on by me on the inside. Once I got three wide, we were done. It was over at that point." The result left Gordon 12th in points with two races remaining – next week's stop at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway the following week – in the opening Challenger Round of the Chase. Only the top 12, including any Chase driver with a win, advance. Three of those trailing Gordon have yet to win this season. The fourth, defending series champion Kevin Harvick , has two wins and more runnerup finishes (10) than anyone since Bobby Allison in 1972. It was the most laps led in a race by Gordon since the spring race earlier this year at Talladega Superspeedway and his first time at the front in his last four starts. "One thing you have to understand is we haven't been running the way we've been running from a lack of effort," Gordon said. "And we didn't run the way we did today without putting a lot of hard work into bringing better race cars to the race track. "I'm extremely encouraged by that. ... Everybody's been working together to make improvements because we know we've been behind. Today was extremely encouraging."
At least four NASCAR drivers have crashed hard into walls not protected by SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) barriers this season, with two sustaining injuries that required medical treatment. Camping World Truck Series driver Austin Theriault was the most recent victim, as the Brad Keselowski Racing driver suffered a 10 percent compression fracture of the lower back after crashing during the Oct. 3 Rhino Linings 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . Theriault's No. 29 Ford struck the wall nose-first in approximately the same spot hit by Erik Jones ( Joe Gibbs Racing ) earlier this year during an XFINITY Series event. Jones was not injured as a result of his crash. Tuesday, team owner and 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski said he had not seen Theriault, "but I spoke to him and I know he's going through all those stages with the protocol you have to go through for NASCAR. Until that's done, I think it would be a little premature for me to say anything as to how he’s doing." Keselowski, whose organization fields two full-time trucks, said he is hopeful his driver will be "ready to go" when the series heads to Talladega Superspeedway in two weeks. On Thursday, Talladega officials announced "significant safety enhancements ... will be in place" before the track's Oct. 23-25 race weekend. In a statement posted on the track's web site, officials said "we have installed more than 8,000 linear feet of (SAFER) Barrier in 2015. We are covering the entire outside and interior retaining walls of the 2.66-mile facility." The fact that another driver hit in an unprotected area at a track, Keselowski said, does make him cringe, "but then I get back in the race car and say 'What are my options?' "As a team owner I have no ability to affect chance on the tracks, and as a driver I'm consistently told how lucky I am to have a spot as a race car driver and I need to shut up and driver the car. "There are no options available for me to remedy the situation, so I move on to things I can affect change on." Steve O'Donnell, Executive Vice President and Chief racing Development Officer for NASCAR, told NASCAR.com on Monday that the installation of SAFER barriers and other safety enhancements is "something that we've been very diligent about. "We were very vocal coming out of Daytona (in February)," he said. "We've worked with each of the facilities to have an aggressive plan in place for the SAFER barriers. In this case we've already had those conversations with Las Vegas and you'll see some changes heading into the 2016 season. "It was very unfortunate ... but the tracks have made some big investments in terms of from the first race to the second and I expect that to happen again as we look at Las Vegas and heading into the Cup weekend for 2016." Las Vegas Motor Speedway officials, contacted this week, said that plans are in place to have SAFER barrier installed in the area of the Theriault and Jones crashes before next season and that those plans were in place before this most recent incident. JGR driver Kyle Busch suffered a broken right leg and fractures to his left foot when he hit the inside wall nearest to Turn 1 during the season-opening XFINITY Series event at Daytona International Speedway in February. Busch, who competes full-time in the Sprint Cup Series, missed the season's first 11 races while recuperating. DIS president Joie Chitwood said that SAFER barrier should have been in place where the Busch accident occurred, but added after the incident, "we're going to fix that" and that the energy-absorbing barrier would be installed "on every inch at this property." By the time the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series returned to the 2.5-mile track in July, additional barriers had been put in place beyond the exit of pit road (where the Busch impact took place), along the entire backstretch and at the entrance to pit road beyond Turn 4. More than 20,000 square feet of grass areas inside the track, between the racing surface and interior walls, was paved as well. "My thing about it is they do need to work faster," Busch said of additional SAFER barrier being installed at facilities. "I know there's a plan, but there's no reason why some of these race tracks -- like Bristol for instance had (SAFER barrier on) the walls on the straightaway" before this year's spring events at the track. "And at a place like (Las) Vegas, it's been eight months and ... they don't have (SAFER) walls. It's frustrating sometimes. "I've said it before and I'll say it again ... we'll figure out how to crash in the stupidest ways in the weirdest spots and get hurt. That Austin (Theriault) crash, that was so weird and never should have happened, but it did. We all need to stop playing God and protect as much as we can protect and let the rest take care of itself." Fellow Sprint Cup driver Jeff Gordon was not injured when he crashed at Atlanta Motor Speedway , a week after Busch's wreck, hitting a portion of the backstretch wall not covered with SAFER materials. Incidents such as Theriault's "points out how important it is to have every single wall covered at these race tracks," Gordon , a four-time Sprint Cup Series champion, said. "You know, for whatever reason, somewhere along the way somebody said 'we can put it here and we don't need it here' and that just proved that it doesn't matter what stats show. ... These incidents can happen at any time," said Gordon . According to AMS officials, additional SAFER barrier will be installed in January of 2016 along the outer wall on the front and backstretch as well as portions of the inside wall and in the turns.