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4 in a Row: Relive Jeff Gordon's win over Mark Martin in 1998
Watch as Jeff Gordon passes Mark Martin in the Pepsi 400 in 1998 at MIS with 9 laps to go to take home the checkered flag. This victory was Gordon's fourth consecutive win in a season where he went on to win 13 races.
From the Vault: Stewart beats Gordon for Sonoma win
Tony Stewart has seven road-course victories, but his first came in 2001 when he beat Robby Gordon to win at Sonoma Raceway for Joe Gibbs Racing in the No. 20 car.
Jeff Gordon won't drive No. 88 car at Michigan
RELATED: Dale Jr. offers rehab update on social media BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s return to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition remains undetermined. But if the series' most popular driver remains sidelined when the series heads to Michigan International Speedway for the Aug. 28 Pure Michigan 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), it will be Alex Bowman and not Jeff Gordon handling the driving duties of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet. Gordon , who made his fourth start for the team at Bristol Motor Speedway , will not be available due to a prior commitment, according to Hendrick officials. However, the four-time series champion will travel to Michigan to support the team on Sunday. Earnhardt is recovering from concussion-like symptoms that have kept him sidelined since July. The Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol was the fifth race he's missed. Bowman drove for the team at Loudon, New Hampshire, following Earnhardt's initial diagnosis. Gordon took over the following week, and has competed at Indianapolis, Pocono and Watkins Glen prior to Bristol. Bowman, 23, finished 26th in his fill-in role for Earnhardt at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Gordon , meanwhile, has finishes of 13th, 27th, 14th and 11th, respectively, in his four starts with the team. . @JeffGordonWeb has prior commitment that won't allow him to be in Mich. for entire race wknd. @AlexBRacing to sub if @DaleJr isn't cleared. — Hendrick 88 Team (@Hendrick88Team) August 19, 2016 Happy to be on standby for @DaleJr and @TeamHendrick at @MISpeedway . Hopefully Dale is cleared but if not I'm ready to go! — Alex Bowman (@AlexBRacing) August 20, 2016 UPDATE: The 88 team does not expect to make an announcement for Michigan until Wednesday afternoon. We don’t expect to make an announcement regarding @MISpeedway before Wednesday afternoon. — Hendrick 88 Team (@Hendrick88Team) August 22, 2016 &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;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;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
When Jeff met Junior: Gordon recalls first meeting with Dale Jr.
RELATED: Latest updates, timeline of Dale Jr.'s recovery BRISTOL, Tenn. -- The first time he met Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Jeff Gordon never imagined that he would one day drive in relief for his Hendrick Motorsports teammate. Yet here Saturday night, Gordon will do just that, suiting up for the fourth consecutive race to drive the organization's No. 88 Chevrolet in place of Earnhardt in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Earnhardt has been sidelined since mid-July due to concussion-like symptoms and the timing of his return has yet to be determined. Their first meeting came in the mid 1990s at North Wilkesboro Speedway when Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Earnhardt Jr.'s father, were at the top of their game. The elder Earnhardt was already a legendary figure in the sport; Gordon was on his way to becoming one. The cheering and jeering of the Earnhardt and Gordon fans was a weekly occurrence at tracks across the country. That the two would go on to become both friends and business associates seemed unfathomable to those in the grandstands. "I remember sitting there on pit road and Dale Sr. and he came walking by … it was the first time I ever met (Junior)," Gordon told NASCAR.com recently. "They were getting ready to qualify; I don't remember if he was driving a Late Model maybe … I don't exactly remember but I knew he'd been doing some racing and was building some momentum. "I remember that he was very respectful. It was cool to meet him and then shortly after that see him rise as quick as he did." Gordon "retired" from competition at the end of 2015, with four series titles and 93 career victories. The last time he visited Bristol, he was working in the television booth, just two months into his new role as a FOX NASCAR analyst. RELATED: Remembering some of the top moments at Bristol Now, he's back behind the wheel at a track where he notched five wins and five of 81 career poles. Hendrick officials announced July 14 that doctors had not cleared Earnhardt Jr. to compete the following weekend at New Hampshire. Alex Bowman stepped in and finished 26th in his only start with the team. Gordon took over the driving duties for races at Indianapolis (13th ), Pocono (27th ) and most recently Watkins Glen (14th ). Getting back in the car, and the No. 88 in particular, was an unusual feeling for Gordon although the 45-year-old certainly garnered his share of the spotlight throughout his career. "I knew it was a big story," he said of the return, "but still until you’re living it and the reality of it is there, you don't know how your heart's going to beat, how your hands are going to sweat. That first time on track at Indy, I was sweating. And not just because of the heat. "It would be different if I had been out for one week or two weeks. But I'd been out for eight months. I hadn't really driven this package. There's added pressure because of the situation, it being Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s car. To me the pressure was more about the performance." Earnhardt, who also missed two races in 2012 after suffering a concussion, is a two-time champion in NASCAR’s XFINITY Series and has 26 Sprint Cup victories. His absence from competition has seen him fall from 13th to 21st in the points standings. His move to the XFINITY Series (then Busch Grand National) is one Gordon hasn't forgotten either. Earnhardt made one start in the series '96 and eight in '97 before going full-time the following season. "I went to see Dale Sr. about some business and he said 'Hey come check out Dale Jr.'s car for Watkins Glen," Gordon said. "… I looked at the car and remember it wasn't fancy, wasn't some super premium piece of equipment. The shifter on it was so long. Total old school. At that point we had been making really nice transmissions, road course cars, short shifters and all those things." Gordon said he took the opportunity for a bit of friendly ribbing. "I gave Senior a hard time," he said. "I was like 'What's this? You're going to make him go to Watkins Glen in this? That shifter is just wrong. This car is not at all what he deserves.'" Earnhardt wasn't swayed by the comments, according to Gordon . "He goes, 'Oh no. I'm going to make him work for it. He's not going to have it easy; he's going to work on it himself. I'm not going give him the best equipment. He's not going to learn anything being in the best equipment. He's going to have to drive some mediocre equipment so he can learn.' "And I thought that was pretty cool." &amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;
Gordon makes 800th Sprint Cup start, Kenseth takes No. 600 at The Glen
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon officially made his 800th NASCAR premier series start Sunday, taking the green flag at Watkins Glen International . Gordon made his 24th start at the 2.45-mile road course in Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at The Glen (USA, MRN, SiriusXM), substituting for the third consecutive week in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet as Dale Earnhardt Jr . recovers from concussion-related symptoms. The green flag also marked big milestones from two other drivers. Matt Kenseth , driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota, made his 600th start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Michael McDowell , in the Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing , made his 200th premier-series appearance. Gordon , who turned 45 on Thursday, becomes the ninth driver in NASCAR history to hit the 800-start plateau in stock-car racing's top division. Of the eight drivers ahead of him on the all-time list, five are inductees to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Kenseth becomes the second driver to cross the 600-start barrier this season. The retiring Tony Stewart also achieved the milestone, making start No. 600 at Kentucky Speedway on July 9.
Gordon disqualified from Dakar Rally in Stage 4
CALAMA, Chile -- Robby Gordon will be leaving Chile and the Dakar Rally much earlier than expected. Trying to recover from mechanical issues after Stage 2, Gordon's Hummer was hit with more problems during Wednesday's Stage 4 and he was disqualified, according to speedenergy.com. Speed Energy was Gordon's sponsor for the Dakar Rally. Gordon began the day 17th but had right-front wheel bearing issues before the start of the timed special, costing him about five hours. He completed the stage, but because he was late to the special, he was disqualified from the rally. Gordon was one of six cars to withdraw Wednesday. "Disappointed doesn't even begin to describe the way I'm feeling right now, not only for me but for everyone involved," Gordon said. "Knowing all the hard work and dedication that was put into this program is what makes our untimely exit from the Dakar Rally a hard pill to swallow. "While it may not appear like it due to our performance thus far, countless hours went into this effort. To have a wheel bearing fail is just sickening ... a huge, huge disappointment. We run this same wheel bearing on the trophy truck and have put thousands of kilometers on HUMMERs, and we have never had this part fail." STAGE 3 SAN SALVADOR DE JUJUY, Argentina -- Attempting to overcome a poor finish in Stage 2 due to mechanical issues, the No. 303 HUMMER was back on unfamiliar terrain. In the 2010 edition of the Dakar Rally, Stage 3 took the competitors from La Rioja to Fiambala, however, this year the route has moved further east as they make their way to Chile. Beginning the day in San Miguel de Tucuman, this special stage was been split into two parts, totaling 165 miles. Starting the day in 21st position overall, Robby Gordon and navigator, Kellon Walch finished the stage in 15th, putting the team 17th overall, 1 hour 32 minutes behind leader Carlos Sainz. Even as Gordon improved his position in the rally, he was not pleased with the performance of the HUMMER. "We keep putting ourselves behind the eight ball. We passed a bunch of cars early in the special, but then realized we had lost a transmission pump", Gordon said. "[Tuesday's] special would have been good for the HUMMER had we not had a mechanical issue. The route had some very technical, rough stuff in the beginning, and it would have been good for us." STAGE 2 SAN MIGUEL DE TUCUMAN, Argentina -- Robby Gordon struggled in the second stage of the Dakar Rally on Monday, finishing 46th after an accident and dropping to 21st overall in the standings. Carlos Sainz, the defending champion, won his second stage in as many days in his Volkswagen. His lead is 3:05 ahead of Stephane Peterhansel's BMW and 1:06:55 in front of Gordon in his Hummer. Gordon's accident occurred after a solid start and cost him an hour's worth of repairs. "We were actually pretty good through the first few check points," Gordon said. "One corner snuck up on me; I didn't see it and just drove off the road, hitting a large rock. This is very unfortunate for our team. Now that we are an hour behind heading into Chile versus only a few minutes, we definitely got our work cut out for us. I think we will be OK though; there is still plenty of racing left. "The Hummer sustained some damage on today's stage as when we smashed the front of the race vehicle into the rock, and the transmission doesn't have reverse because it broke when I tried to reverse out of my mistake. I would say that we were broke down for maybe an hour today...a very costly hour." Dakar is being held for the third consecutive year in Argentina and Chile. This year's route covers 5,903 miles, reaching the Atacama desert in northern Chile -- one of the driest places on earth -- before heading back for the Jan. 16 finish in Buenos Aires. The race heads north on Tuesday to San Salvador de Jujuy in Argentina and crosses into Chile on Wednesday, heading for the Atacama desert. STAGE 1 CORDOBA, Argentina -- Robby Gordon and Team Hummer completed the first stage of the Dakar Rally on Sunday in eighth place, covering the 138-mile course in 2 hours, 29 minutes, 36 seconds. Gordon and navigator Kellon Walch trail defending champion Carlos Sainz by 11:04. Sainz's Volkswagen was 1:31 ahead of second-place Stephane Peterhansel in a BMW and 2:16 in front of Volkswagen teammate Nasser Al Attiyah. American driver Mark Miller was fourth, 4:17 behind in another Volkswagen. Gordon started fourth but dropped to ninth by the first marker as heavy rain created a slippery disadvantage as participants suffered from skidding and sliding. "We knew that the Hummer team would not be as strong as we would like in the Argentina portion of this race, but we struggled a little bit more [Sunday] than I would have liked due to the weather conditions and technical rally-style section," said Gordon , who offered a reason for the discrepancy in time in correlation to the leaders. "Sainz and Peterhansel ... started the race before the weather began and were virtually unaffected by it. That's why you see the gap in time from the rest of the competitors. "We started out the special good, but we had a couple of challenges along the way. Kellon and I had to change helmets during the middle of the stage because his microphone quit working. I ran off the road at one point. We also ran out of windshield wiper fluid due to the mud. These mistakes probably cost us about 1 minute of total speed. I expected to give up 5 minutes in [Sunday's] stage, not 11 minutes, which disappoints me. "It is still early in the race, but we have some ground to make up [Monday]. Some of the guys are already starting to have issues this early. Hopefully, we will recover quickly from [Sunday's] issues before we enter Chile because it is our best opportunity to make up time. By this point, I want to be less than 10 minutes behind." Sunday's first stage from Victoria to Corboda in northern Argentina followed the ceremonial ride from Buenos Aires to Victoria a day earler. Officials said 407 contestants started the race Sunday, down from the 430 who were enrolled Saturday. Dakar is being held for the third consecutive year in Argentina and Chile. This year's route covers 5,903 miles, reaching the Atacama desert in northern Chile -- one of the driest places on earth -- before heading back for the Jan. 16 finish in Buenos Aires. Monday's second stage from Cordoba to San Miguel de Tucuman is a 201-mile race through the mountains. "[Monday's] stage is supposed to go through the mountains, which are not good for us for two reasons. First, the Hummers are not turbo-charged, then the course is a little narrow. They did say that we should encounter some bumps, which could be good for us," Gordon said. Gordon's second team, with Chilean driver Eliseo Salazar and navigator Steve La Roza, is in 28th place after the opening stage, 34:25 off the pace. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Employer grants Bowman time off to drive No. 88
RELATED: Full timeline of Junior's injury BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Alex Bowman is just like every 23 year old, balancing the ins and outs of a new career as a young adult. He was pulled away from his day job this week when he was asked to fill in for Dale Earnhardt Jr . -- who continues to recover from concussion-like symptoms -- for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). And where is his day job? Bowman said Friday during his media availability at Michigan International Speedway that he spends his Tuesdays and Thursdays at Hendrick Motorsports working in the simulation department. Half day at work today so I can make the flight. Ready for @MISpeedway — Alex Bowman (@AlexBRacing) August 25, 2016 "They're pretty flexible when you tell them that you've got to drive the No. 88 car and that you need to leave a couple of hours early to get to the airport, Bowman said with a laugh. "… And (the job) kind of keeps me relevant at HMS and I get to learn a lot and still be part of a race team even though I'm not driving every week. So, it's been really cool and I'm just as thankful for that opportunity as I am for this." This weekend marks the second time Bowman will wheel the No. 88 Chevrolet in place of Earnhardt. He made his debut at July's New Hampshire Motor Speedway Sprint Cup Series event, where he finished 26th after a late tire rub. He will lineup for the weekend's main event in the sixth position -- the best starting position of his career -- following Friday afternoon's three-round qualifying session. It is unclear whether Bowman will be back in the HMS entry for a third time this year with Jeff Gordon taking over driver responsibilities for next weekend's Bojangles' Southern 500 , but he's there if his employer needs him. "We'll just have to see Dale's timeline, but I'm definitely happy to get in the car whenever needed," said. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;span _rtespchksugg=&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;Lt"alt"ult"flt"let"lit"lat"lot"ltd"t&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot; style=&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;background-color: #ffffaa;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot; _rtetemp=&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;spchk&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;am&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/span&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;p;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Engine issue hinders Bowman, No. 88 early
RELATED: Michigan results The Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet team encountered early trouble Sunday at Michigan International Speedway , going to the garage with engine issues that would ruin any chance at victory. Alex Bowman , subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr . this weekend as he recovers from concussion-related symptoms, radioed his crew just short of the 50-lap mark of the Pure Michigan 400 to report a sour engine. Bowman -- who started sixth in the 40-car field -- steadily lost ground, eventually falling off the lead lap on the 54th of 200 laps. Bowman made the hard turn toward the garage for repairs, returning to the race five laps down. Crew chief Greg Ives told Bowman that the malady was "just a wire," and the car returned to a competitive pace despite the deficit. Bowman finished 30th, five laps down. Bowman -- a NASCAR XFINITY Series regular for JR Motorsports -- made his second fill-in start for Earnhardt, who has missed the last six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. Jeff Gordon , an Earnhardt substitute for four races this season, will return to the wheel of the No. 88 for this weekend's Bojangles' Southern 500 (Sunday, 6 p.m. ET, NBC/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM) at Darlington Raceway . Gordon , a four-time premier series champ who emerged from retirement to fill in, is a seven-time winner at the historic 1.366-mile track. The Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 will carry a "Gray Ghost" throwback paint scheme at Darlington in a tribute to NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Buddy Baker.
Logano leaps to Coors Light Pole Award at Michigan
RELATED: Qualifying results " See every car, team rosters BROOKLYN, Mich. – If Joey Logano was looking for a good omen for Sunday, he found it on Friday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway . Touring the two-mile track in 35.697 seconds (201.698 mph) during the final round of knockout qualifying for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN), Logano edged Jimmie Johnson (201.523 mph) for the top starting spot by .031 seconds. The Coors Light Pole Award was Logano's third at MIS. On the previous two occasions the driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford started first on the grid—in August 2013 and June 2016—he won the subsequent NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Should Logano win form the pole on Sunday, he would be the third driver to win three or more Michigan races from the top starting spot, joining NASCAR Hall of Famers David Pearson and Bill Elliott . "Any time you put your name with a Hall of Famer of any sort, it would be really special for me," said Logano, who has collected three poles this season and 16 in his career. "That's crazy—that's a really, really neat stat. "We've got to do it though. But, obviously, starting up front here is an advantage, for sure. We talk about track position. We talk about safety on restart, being how crazy it is with the low-downforce package. And the first pit stall—probably the most important thing of all is keeping the track position through the race." And, of course, when Logano is fast in qualifying trim at MIS, he usually races well, too. "I'm excited about it," he said. "I thought our car was really fast in race trim earlier (in practice). ... I didn't think we were going to make it happen today (in qualifying), but (crew chief) Todd ( Gordon ) made some good adjustments, and he gave me a little pep talk, and I was ready to go. I was going to drive the heck out of that thing." Denny Hamlin (201.406 mph) qualified third, followed by Kevin Harvick (201.382 mph) and Chase Elliott (201.303 mph). Johnson's second-place start led a resurgence by Hendrick Motorsports , which placed all four cars in the top 12 during qualifying for only the second time this season, the first coming in May at Talladega, a restrictor-plate track. "It was just an awesome day for this Lowe's race car and this Lowe's race team," Johnson said. "We keep stacking pennies and making this car better and better. "My hat's off to everyone at Hendrick Motorsports and all the hard work they're putting into things. Great practice and great qualifying. We need some more practice sessions (Saturday) and roll them into a good race." Johnson participated in a NASCAR organization test (one car per team) on Tuesday at Chicagoland Speedway and found the session helpful in finding speed. Indeed, the Hendrick cars more than held their own against the four entries from Joe Gibbs Racing , which have been the dominant force in Cup qualifying this season. Hamlin and Carl Edwards (ninth), were the only two JGR drivers to make the top 12, with Matt Kenseth qualifying 13th and Kyle Busch 16th. &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Gordon talks return, Dale Jr. at Indianapolis
SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Fans lined up two- and three-deep outside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway media center hoping for autographs from four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon , who is returning to NASCAR competition this weekend. The five-time Indy winner will drive for the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr. for two races -- at Indy and next week at Pocono -- while Earnhardt recovers from concussion-like symptoms. Gordon , 45, was all smiles and admittedly still a little overwhelmed with the new part-time job as he addressed the media for the first time Friday morning. He was primarily concerned with his former Hendrick Motorsports teammate Earnhardt's recovery. "Most of all, I'm proud to be here and help this team out," Gordon said. "This is his team and what we want the most is to have him healthy and strong for the long term. My goal is to come here and give this team the best effort I can." Gordon said the whole opportunity to fill in for Earnhardt began with a simple cell phone text he received while vacationing with his wife in France. "Call me," read the text from team owner Rick Hendrick. "I can tell you, you sit down when you call," Gordon said smiling. "It hasn't happened a lot, but when it does, it's usually something big. "I was in the South of France at that time, second day of our vacation. I got that text and looked at my wife and said, 'Oh, boy, here we go.' "Rick said to me, 'Are you coming to Indianapolis?' And I told him I was coming on Saturday. He said, 'You better bring your uniform.' Then he started telling me what was happening, and I told him, 'You're messing with me. I know you're messing with me.' "I knew right away the seriousness, that he wasn't joking. That this was serious. I honestly didn't have to think twice." So Gordon flew back from Paris to New York on Tuesday, a day earlier than expected and Hendrick had a plane waiting on its "new" driver to transport him to the team's headquarters in North Carolina. Once in Charlotte, Gordon had to get a NASCAR driver's license -- he currently held one as a team owner -- and get the required physical tests to certify he was ready for competition. The team still had Gordon's seat and steering wheel from last season's Cup finale at Homestead. Gordon said he spent time studying data and GoPro video from inside the cars of Hendrick drivers Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott when they tested last week at Indy. Gordon said he also spent time speaking with crew chief Greg Ives. "The cool thing about Greg Ives is he reminded me that he worked for Robbie Loomis when Robbie was my crew chief and he was telling some great stories about working with Robbie," Gordon said. "I've known Greg for a long time and always been impressed with him. But, I have never had the opportunity to work with him. I'm looking forward to working with him. I think he's a great crew chief and they have a great race team." An hour before Gordon and Hendrick spoke to the media in Indianapolis, Earnhardt sent a message to his fans on social media. "Today is the 1st day in many that I sensed improvement. Seen small gains during my physical therapy as well. Light at the end of the tunnel," Earnhardt wrote on Twitter. RELATED: Earnhardt gives update on his health "I certainly woke up feeling good when I saw Dale Jr.'s tweet, that he's seen progress," Gordon said. "I texted him right away as soon as I saw that. So, that is great news. Great way to start the day." Hendrick also reiterated how proud of Earnhardt he was for recognizing a problem and taking correct and cautious measures in terms of racing. And, he noted, Earnhardt was in the race shop Wednesday spending time with his team. "He looks good and he's in great spirits," Hendrick said. "He's encouraged and following the doctors' orders and we're really excited. He wants to get back in the car. "He wants to race, but he also knows that the regimen they have him on will get him right for a long time. So he's following doctors' orders, but I can tell he's getting a little antsy. But he's going to do well." Gordon conceded that in addition to getting used to the 2016 Cup cars -- and the digital dash, which he has never used -- was the simple and obvious thing of remembering he's driving the No. 88 Chevrolet. For 24 seasons, Gordon drove the No. 24 Chevrolet for Hendrick, earning four series titles and a record five Brickyard 400 trophies. Now, rookie Chase Elliott drives that car. "I'm going to be racing against the No. 24 car out there," Gordon said, allowing a slight smile. "It's a race car and I'm going to be focused on driving, not focused on anything else. "To me, once I get behind the wheel and I'm inside the car I don't know what is on the outside of that car." RELATED: Other times legendary athletes wore different numbers In addition to this role driving for Earnhardt, Gordon revealed he was asked in February to fill in for then-injured Tony Stewart in the season-opening Daytona 500 . He couldn't because of contract obligations with his new on-air role with FOX Sports. Certainly, few of Gordon's competitors Sunday have any doubt whatsoever that he will be competitive here. "He has the best stats of anybody or as good of stats as anybody here at this race track as far as top fives and top 10s," Richard Childress Racing driver Ryan Newman said. "I think that he is driving the same equipment, it's not like he's in somebody else's race car. He knows what he's driving, he knows the people he is driving for, so I don't see any reason why he is not one of the guys to beat." Teammate Jimmie Johnson echoed the prevailing sentiment in the garage. With both Stewart and Gordon in their final Brickyard, there will be plenty to watch. "It is big, the way it worked out obviously, but to have Tony Stewart in his final race, Jeff Gordon in his final race -- Part Two, it is a big time," Johnson said. "Jeff has always been so well supported by the fans at this race track. I can only imagine how loud they are going to be at driver intros -- and how bonkers this place would go if he is able to win." RELATED: Stewart would consider substitute role in '17 In another nod to the team's regular driver, track crews took down a sign the Speedway had placed above the No. 88 team's garage that identified Jeff Gordon as the driver of the car instead of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Gordon insisted that it was Earnhardt's car regardless of who was driving it this weekend. Gordon looked good in opening practice for Sunday's Brickyard 400 with the ninth-fastest speed, and no one has proven himself better here. "I'm certainly a little overwhelmed over everything that has happened over the last week," Gordon said. "But, most of all, I'm proud to be here and help his team out. This is his team. What we want most is to have (Earnhardt) healthy and strong for the long-term. Today is a great sign of things to come for him. "For me, my goal is to come here and give this team the best effort that I can, and give them the best result ... hopefully a good one. So really, this is just me helping out the organization. We will see what happens on Sunday. If we are out there having fun, and put a good result together, I can tell you what is in it for me is to make that team proud, and not let them down." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;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;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;