- Did you mean:
Robby Gordon's father, stepmom found dead in home
The father of former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Robby Gordon , along with the elder Gordon's wife, died Wednesday in an apparent murder-suicide, police told the Associated Press. The bodies of Rob Gordon , 68, and his wife Sharon, 57, were found dead in their California home. "I'm so sad I can't believe," Gordon told the Associated Press. Gordon competed in 396 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races from 1991-2012, and he won three times during that span -- at New Hampshire in 2001, and at Sonoma and Watkins Glen in 2003. Gordon drove the No. 31 for Richard Childress Racing from 2001-04, then drove for his own team, Robby Gordon Motorsports, for the rest of his career in the No. 7. A noted off-road racer, Gordon currently drives in the Speed Energy Formula Off-Road racing series, which he formed in 2013.
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.
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.
Jeff Gordon to join Cadillac team for Rolex 24 at Daytona
Four-time NASCAR premier series champion Jeff Gordon will make his return to the Rolex 24 At Daytona for the first time in 10 years as Wayne Taylor Racing on Thursday confirmed Gordon alongside full-season co-drivers Jordan and Ricky Taylor and endurance driver Max Angelelli as the driver lineup in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R for the 55th Rolex 24 At Daytona. The race opens the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season on Jan. 28-29, 2017. Gordon's lone previous Rolex 24 appearance in 2007 came with the same team. He co-drove the No. 10 Pontiac Riley Daytona Prototype with Angelelli, Wayne Taylor and Jan Magnussen to a third-place result. "When I announced I would no longer be competing full-time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, my hope was that I would get an opportunity like this to compete again in such a prestigious event -- with Konica Minolta and Wayne Taylor Racing -- with the hopes of winning it this time," Gordon said. "I know that Ricky and Jordan are super-fast, and I believe it will be a very strong combination." Gordon , now an analyst on NASCAR on FOX telecasts, and the No. 10 team will be part of the debut race for the brand-new Cadillac DPi-V.R, which was officially unveiled Wednesday by the manufacturer. "I think it is exceptional to have Jeff back with us after 10 years," Angelelli said. "I look forward to sharing our new Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R racecar with him, discussing our setup and race strategy. It was great the first time -- we might have won that race if some things would have gone our way. Now that it's happening again, with the new car, it's going to be absolutely great." Ricky and Jordan Taylor, who finished third in the 2016 WeatherTech Championship Prototype standings, are also looking forward to running with the NASCAR legend. "It used to be common to have NASCAR guys joining teams for the Rolex but, over recent years, it's become less and less frequent," Jordan Taylor said. " Jeff Gordon is a name that everyone knows worldwide. I can't wait to compare notes and feedback with such a legend of our sport. It's going to be an experience of a lifetime." "Having Jeff Gordon join the team is really a dream come true for all of us," added Ricky Taylor. "It is a huge compliment to how well-respected the team has become over the years for someone with the history and career of Jeff Gordon to want to be a part of it. I'm sure he will be a great addition to the lineup and hopefully we can all get our first Rolex 24 win together." The No. 10 entry will compete for the overall Rolex 24 race victory in the WeatherTech Championship's Prototype (P) class. It will be one of three Cadillac DPi-V.R race cars in the field, as three-time defending series champions Action Express Racing confirmed its plans to field a pair of the new race cars earlier Thursday morning. Gordon , who has participated in private test sessions with the team in recent weeks, is expected to join the team for the upcoming IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona International Speedway in Dec. 13-14, as well as the three-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 At Daytona test on Jan. 6-8, 2017 prior to the race on the final weekend of January. &lt;/p&gt;
F1 champ Nico Rosberg retires, Jeff Gordon drops hint at future?
The motorsports world was sent into a state of hysteria Friday morning when Formula 1 champion Nico Rosberg, 31, abruptly announced his retirement less than a week after winning the title, garnering congratulatory tweets from a few NASCAR drivers. Wow! Congrats on being F1 Champion and on a outstanding career. Enjoy what comes next. https://t.co/iETU8ZVJa9 — Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) December 2, 2016 Congrats Nico https://t.co/YU22d5z2Pk — landon cassill (@landoncassill) December 2, 2016 I think @nico_rosberg broke twitter this morning. Bold move, love it. — Regan Smith (@ReganSmith) December 2, 2016 After the initial shock of the news subsided, speculation immediately began regarding who would fill Rosberg's coveted seat. There was one particular name that seemed to be making its way into a lot of speculatory tweets. Take a look at the guy pictured above sharing a laugh with Rosberg's (now former) Mercedes teammate and F1 standout, Lewis Hamilton. FOX Sports analyst Mike Joy jokingly tossed it out there ... Jeff, Maybe MB F1 need a high-caliber sub for '17 ! “ @JeffGordonWeb : Wow! Congrats Nico, on being F1 Champion and on an outstanding career.” — Mike Joy (@mikejoy500) December 2, 2016 ... and his FOX partner Gordon certainly didn't do much to quell those rumors. https://t.co/M3TAM6Xkdg — Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) December 2, 2016
Jeff Gordon reflects on Johnson's legacy as he runs for a seventh title
MORE: Buy tickets for Homestead-Miami Championship Weekend Jimmie Johnson . A worldwide household name, Johnson has reached remarkable feats in the racing world. This weekend could represent a pinnacle in his racing career, as he runs for his seventh championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway , the opportunity to tie the great Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for the most all-time Sprint Cup Series championships within reach. But "Six-Time" wasn't always that way: Former Hendrick Motorsports teammate and No. 48 car owner Jeff Gordon recalls when Johnson wasn't a world champion, a race winner or even a Sprint Cup Series driver. He was just Jimmie. • • • Gordon remembers a tremendously fast, red, white and blue car that took the track at an XFINITY test at Darlington Raceway back in 2000. "I was helping Ricky Hendrick -- (team owner) Rick (Hendrick’s) son -- who was getting in the XFINITY Series and wanted to run a few races and Darlington was one of the races on that schedule," Gordon told NASCAR.com on Thursday. "… So, I went down to Darlington for a day of XFINITY testing and I remember going out there on top of a truck … and a car was out there -- it was a red, white and blue car. Really had a nice line, carrying a lot of speed, right up next to the wall. You know, Darlington's a very intimidating track and usually it takes not just a lot of skill but experience to understand the track." Gordon complimented the driver's style, telling Hendrick "that's pretty much how you need to do it." Then he asked who the driver was. " Jimmie Johnson ," Gordon recalls Hendrick answering. With his seemingly experienced motor skills, Gordon wondered how many times Johnson had raced at "The Track Too Tough to Tame." Hendrick surprised Gordon by telling him he thought it was his first time. Gordon wanted to meet him. "I remember going down to the garage and Jimmie was sitting in his car and I went over there to him and said, 'Hey, what's up, how are you?' and introduced myself," Gordon said. "I said, 'So, have you ever been here to Darlington before?' And he said, 'Nope, today's the first time I ever saw the place.' "That to me in itself kind of floored me -- it looked like he had been there for years; tremendous speed," Gordon admitted. " So, I started watching him from that point forward. "… To me, (he) was an overachiever for the team and the equipment." Jimmie Johnson : A 24-year-old "overachiever" without a future ride, Sprint Cup win or championship to his name. Sounds about right for someone who would later be christened "Six-Time." RELATED: Johnson through the years in photos • • • The date is August 19, 2000. The now- XFINITY Series heads to the rolling Irish Hills of Michigan International Speedway . Already a three-time now- Sprint Cup Series champion under the Hendrick Motorsports umbrella, Gordon is making his fourth XFINITY start in the No. 24 Gordon -Evernham Motorsports ride. After the drivers meeting, Johnson approaches Gordon . "(He said), 'Hey, I've got some opportunities and some people talking to me and I'd love to pick your brain about it and get your opinion,'" Gordon recalled. "So, I was impressed that he was willing to come up and ask me and I felt honored that he thought to do that." The veteran driver was even more impressed during the race. "I was running, I think third or fourth or something on a late restart," Gordon said. "… I had a faster car than him all day long, but on that final restart he made a big, bold move and passed me, and I was like, 'Whoa!' I was like, 'This guy's got some real skills here.'" GALLERY: How Johnson became 'Six-Time' During that time, Hendrick Motorsports was a three-car team, fielding the Nos. 5, 25 and 24 cars out of three-separate shops on the Concord, North Carolina, campus. But soon, more teams began to adopt the four-car team concept, where each of the cars worked together to share information and were seeing positive on-track results. "When I left that Michigan race, I remember calling Rick (Hendrick) and I said 'You know, I was just racing in the XFINITY race -- Jimmie Johnson is extremely impressive … I really think that we could build this fourth team and hire him,'" Gordon said. Hendrick had met Johnson through his son Ricky, as the pair were friends. But he worried about a lack of sponsorship for a no-name rookie out of El Cajon, California. But Gordon was relentless. "Maybe a week or two went by and we talked some more about it," Gordon said. "and Rick said to me … 'Listen, if you're that adamant about it, why don't you be a partner with me on it and we'll go in together?' "I said, 'Done.'" On Sept. 22, 2000, Jimmie Johnson officially signed with Hendrick Motorsports to drive the No. 48 Chevrolet part-time. He made his first start behind the wheel of the No. 48 ride less than 13 months after that, signed with the team full-time in 2002 and earned his first Sprint Cup Series race 10 races into his rookie year. Less than five years after that, Johnson was celebrating his first Sprint Cup Series championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway . • • •
Despite bumps, Elliott's impressed Gordon , father in rookie season
MORE: Buy tickets for Homestead-Miami Championship Weekend Bill Elliott remembers the conversations with his son. "I said 'If you want to race, then we'll go race. But if you want to go hang out with your buddies on Saturday night, then you can do that. It's your choice,' " Elliott recalled recently. Chase Elliott wanted to race. He wanted to race small cars and big cars, on dirt and on asphalt. So he did. He raced and he won and he lost and he learned. And in 2016, two years removed from winning NASCAR's XFINITY Series title, the youngster was handed the keys to his future -- the seat in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driven at the time by four-time series champion Jeff Gordon . Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) signals the end of the '16 season. Elliott will enter the race 10th in points, having qualified for the championship-determining Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup but falling out of title contention after a difficult second round. There have been "a lot of ups and downs this year," he said. "I think the biggest thing I've seen as I've run throughout this year, and Jeff touched on it as we talked in the offseason, he just kept bragging on this group of guys and how good they were and kept saying, 'Man, you're going to a really good group.' I think you have to see some of those things firsthand to really recognize it and appreciate it and as I've gone through this season I really have. I've got some of the best cars you could have to drive. They make me look a lot better than I am. "Those are the kinds of people you want to be surrounded with if you can do that. I really had nothing to do with the group of people that I was assigned, I was just lucky to fall into place where I did at the time I did. That's been one of my biggest takeaways." "I've had some really good cars to drive and I think having that good relationship with this group and to be able to count on the job that Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) does ... he does an incredible job and doesn't get enough credit; he makes my job as easy as you could have it." Elliott has 10 top fives and 17 top-10 finishes this season and won a pair of poles -- at Daytona's season opener and the unpredictable Talladega. He earned career-best second-place finishes at both Michigan races this year and was third twice in the opening round of the Chase. "I think he's very competitive and in the race car to me he's a veteran," Gordon said. "I know he's beat himself up a few times outside the race car but I like that. That means that second or third is not good enough for him. He's got a bright future." The fact that he was able to qualify for the Chase, Gordon said, wasn't a surprise. Not after Elliott won the XFINITY Series title his first time out while driving for JR Motorsports. Paired with teammates Jimmie Johnson , a six-time series champion, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr ., at HMS, Gordon expected the 20-year-old to excel. "You still never know," Gordon said. "Especially at the Cup level it's very competitive. Not just in the garage level but at Hendrick. To have Jimmie and Kasey and Junior as your teammates, that's going to make you have to step up. But I don't think we would have put him in there if we didn't believe in him. And you know there are going to be some growing pains. I would say there have been far less than I anticipated." Gustafson worked with Kyle Busch , Mark Martin and Gordon at HMS. He said there was never a question of talent when it came to Elliott. But others with talent have come and gone. Younger drivers can go fast but going fast is only part of the equation. Race conditions, passing, altering one's line to adapt to changing track conditions, and the race on an off pit road are additional hurdles to overcome in order to contend. It's what Gustafson refers to as "the art of racing" and said it is something that's "definitely underappreciated" today. "He does that really well," Gustafson said. "Typically in my experience it takes some time to master passing or running in traffic or where you need to move on the track, what you need to do to improve your position. He does a really good job at that. You always can get better -- I think it's something he can learn and change and grow with but I've been pretty impressed with his first year and how he handles all that. "His maturity and mental aptitude and demeanor are pretty far beyond his years. ... Everybody makes mistakes but I think he minimalizes a lot of what you typically see in rookie." LEARNING CURVE Gustafson said Elliott's ability to adapt and digest information quickly when he has struggled in a particular area or at a venue has been impressive. Often, it's the next trip back to that track, or even a year or two, before such improvements bear fruit for a driver. For Elliott, it's sometimes much sooner. Over the course of a weekend in some cases. "It doesn't change through practice but then once he's able to go and digest it, think about it and come back with a game plan ... he attacks it and makes significant improvements," Gustafson said. "It's impressive. I don't know that I've ever worked with a driver that had that ability." The technology available today has been a big help. Elliott will often pour over information gleaned from his teammates while awaiting changes to the car during practice or at day’s end. Where someone brakes in the corner, how fast they pick up the throttle, how much steering they're putting in their car can help when he’s searching for more speed or a better handling ride. And he isn't hesitant to change. The stopwatch doesn't lie, he said. "If the guys have found a way to get you out on the track better for one lap or get you around the race track better for long runs, and that's a proven fact from the stopwatch or tire falloff or whatever data that you can see, then there's no denying that fact," Elliott said. "I think that opens your mind up to try and see what they are doing and how they're going about their job. Amongst our guys or any of the guys in the garage, I just can't see that person X has a car that's that much better than mine. I think you have to recognize that we're in a pretty tight boundary of competition and for you to be way off, well maybe you need to think about how you're driving. Because I know my guys haven't missed it that bad." Gordon , now a FOX NASCAR analyst, says being young or new to the series is a plus; it's easier to absorb the reams of information available without the baggage of preconceived ideas. "You're a sponge," he said, "so you can adapt quickly. "As a team we have to take advantage of that because the longer you go, the harder it is to do that. I think that's one of the things that's made Jimmie so great over all the years is he's been able to do that as well or better than anybody that I know. Someone like Chase, that's as talented and young as he is, I see that in him. That's why I think they've performed consistently very well." Bill Elliott says he tries to look at his son's progression as a driver and not as his son. Either way, he's been impressed with what he's seen. "I think he's done a great job from a driving standpoint," Elliott said. "I really didn't know ... when you come into these deals and you think 'OK, I'm getting in Jeff Gordon 's car and it's already got a pretty good history to it, a damn good history to it, and what are the expectations for a kid that's come in and only run a handful of Cup races prior to this? I've been very impressed." A FAN FAVORITE The elder Elliott won the series' most popular driver award, overseen by the National Motorsports Press Association, a record 16 times. Earnhardt Jr. has won the award the last 13 years. In fact, the award, which has been presented annually since 1953, has gone to someone named Elliott or Earnhardt every year since 1991. Could the younger Elliott be the next in line? He has quickly developed his own following of younger fans while appealing to those who were fans of his father, the 1988 series champion, and to those who were fans of Gordon and the No. 24 team. Voting for this year's MPD award closes Sunday at 11:59 p.m. ET. ( www.mostpopulardriver.com ) "The fan base that I acquired the years that I ran was just so phenomenal," Bill Elliott said. "They supported me through thick and thin. I'd fall out of races on some days and there would be fans that would tell me, 'We don't care if you never win another race; we're behind you 100 percent.' To have that kind of following ... I think it just had to do with my background, how I got into the sport, I wasn't part of the established group. I worked hard and tried to do things the right way, which I didn't always do that. But I tried really hard to take care of the race fans because I really respected the fans, whether they were pulling for me or the other drivers. "I think Chase has been very good and very gracious with the fans and he's been able to pick up that group, plus Jeff had a strong fan base. When you've got everything else ... being involved with Dale Jr. on the XFINITY Y side got him exposed to a lot of people. Winning that championship the first year and coming back and finishing second last year, there was a lot going on." Chase Elliott says seeing fans wearing the No. 24 gear carrying his likeness and name wasn't something he was expecting as the year got underway. And while the competition side of the sport is where he's focused, he understands the importance of the fans. "They're what makes it go around," he said. "One thing my dad always touched on was if you're having a bad day or not feeling well, not doing too good, you have to recognize that whether there are two people at an event or 2,000, if you make one person’s day then that goes a long way with that person. Coming from him, I think that's a pretty good word of advice and something to help keep things in perspective." He listens. And he learns. Even if it's sometimes hard to tell. "We were in the shop one day and we were working on the Late Model car," Bill Elliott said. "He asked me how to do something and I told him. Then he argued with me and I told him, 'Well, do it your way.' So there you go. "You know how kids are."
Jeff Gordon's career coming to a glorious close
MORE: Sunday's full lineup RELATED: Gordon's top 24 NASCAR moments " Full Gordon coverage HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Busy week, surrounded by a lot of friends and family, a legendary figure making the final start of his career with a shot at going out as a five-time champion. Racer. Philanthropist. Father. What's there to say about Jeff Gordon that hasn't been said? What's there to write that hasn't been written? Do a Google search for " Jeff Gordon " and the search engine generates approximately 79 million results. Tom Brady? 83.1 million. Kobe Bryant? 34.6 million. Derek Jeter? 14 million. Gordon , 44, is one of those rare athletes who have transcended their individual sport. A champion on the track? Without question. Off the track? Certainly. Television and tabloids flock to him. He purchased a second residence in New York City in part to escape the spotlight and to navigate life in between races unimpeded by the fame that followed him elsewhere. Maybe he would not carry the same clout or create the same buzz had he chosen another profession. Then again, perhaps his impact would have been even greater elsewhere. A precocious, driven youngster whose family packed up moved east from California in order to continue his development as a racer. A NASCAR premier series champion at 24. And 26. And 27. And 30. Now, at 44, is there one more title in the tank? What's there to say that hasn't been said, write that hasn't been written? WATCH: Gordon's first Homestead win The Alpha and Omega NASCAR didn't begin with Gordon , and it certainly won't end when the Hendrick Motorsports driver climbs from his No. 24 Chevrolet for the final time on Sunday evening. "Everybody's career comes to an end," Richard Petty said. "He's going out strong. I admire him for that part of it. "I wouldn't mind seeing him win the championship because he's meant so much to NASCAR over the years. They're going to miss him a whole lot from that standpoint." There is no one in the sport more qualified to speak on such matters than the man known simply as "The King." Now 78, Petty set the standard for champions on the track as well as how to conduct oneself outside the car. Icon, inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame member, winner of 200 races and seven championships, Petty is NASCAR. The Petty family is NASCAR. Petty's father, Lee, won three titles, 54 races and was in the very first sanctioned race. He, too, is a member of the Hall of Fame. The careers of Richard Petty and Gordon are inextricably linked by a single date – Nov. 15, 1992. Petty made his 1,184th and final start in NASCAR's premier series. Gordon made his very first in the same event. Petty met privately with Gordon this weekend at Homestead to present him with one of his signature Charlie 1 Horse cowboy hats. It was a gesture of appreciation and acknowledgement of everything Gordon has accomplished. But Petty understands better than most that the sport will move forward, just as it did when he stepped out of the car that sunny day in Atlanta. "No matter who you are, you're not strong enough to carry the whole load," Petty said. "He's been a strong leader all these years, but over a period of time, the next crowd comes along and kind of fades them all out. Over a period of time, you go away whether you want to or not." RELATED: Best No. 24 paint schemes Auspicious beginning Gordon won the series' Rookie of the Year title in 1993, competing for the honor against Bobby Labonte , Kenny Wallace and P.J. Jones. Two years later, he won his first championship. It was the era of Dale Earnhardt, the six-time champion chasing Petty's mark of seven titles while blazing new trails. He was "The Intimidator." He was NASCAR. Petty, Earnhardt and then there was Gordon . No one else was as dominant -- between 1995 and '99, Gordon won 47 races. He won Daytona. He won Indy. He won the Winston Million. Had he not come along? "Someone else would have taken that spot," Mike Helton, NASCAR Vice Chairman, said. "I don't know that anybody could have filled it, though. "There's a difference. It's like if the Atlantic Ocean went dry, somebody could figure out how to get water in it, but could they fill that whole ocean? "I think we were very fortunate for Jeff to appear when he did and do what he did along the way to keep our momentum going. It certainly added to the momentum that we had going in that era. We needed a Jeff Gordon and he arose. He came into the sport ... he could have chosen open-wheel racing ... and he would have been massively successful." Why was it Gordon ? Why not someone else who stepped up and helped carry the sport forward, who resonated with fans and sponsors? Helton doesn't know. "I know growing up there was a reason I became a big fan of John Wayne. And there were a lot of cowboys on television," he said. "I just think that speaks to Jeff's inclusiveness, and his capabilities extended beyond just being a very successful athlete as a race car driver." There have been issues from time to time, but nothing major, according to Helton, who added, "Of course we've had conversations in which he'd had to write checks afterward." Earnhardt's death in 2001, in the season-opening Daytona 500 , turned the sport upside down. Gordon was one of the few who could help stabilize it in an uncertain time. "I think the whole industry looked at Jeff to take Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s place when we lost Dale," said Helton. "The garage area needed a voice like we've had historically, whether it was Richard Petty or Darrell Waltrip, Dale Sr. ... He got pressure from the industry inside the garage to be that voice. "When that came, along with the championships that preceded that, he understood the need for a league or sanctioning body in order for the athlete to be successful. But he also had a good soapbox to stand on saying 'Look, we need our voice to be heard too.' And I think the respect worked both ways." RELATED: NASCAR Nation honors Gordon with #24ever 'Iron Man' of NASCAR Consecutive starts: 796. It's one more impressive record in Jeff Gordon 's body of work. He's never missed a start, and passed Ricky Rudd for the consecutive starts record earlier this year. Now, only one remains, one final attempt, one final opportunity. Because of the format for NASCAR's championship-determining Chase, Gordon doesn't have to win Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 . He has to finish ahead of only three challengers -- Kevin Harvick ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), Kyle Busch ( Joe Gibbs Racing ) and Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ) to capture the title. He'll go out a winner regardless of where he finishes. Whether or not he goes out a champion has yet to be determined. Capturing the inaugural Brickyard 400 in '94 has always stood out as his most memorable moment. Until a recent Martinsville victory put him in the Championship 4 here at Homestead-Miami Speedway . The '98 season when he won 13 races, the fourth title in '01 with crew chief Robby Loomis after the departure of mentor Ray Evernham and the '95 crown that was won when he "was going against Earnhardt; that was huge," Gordon said earlier this week. The finality of the moment, though, carries much weight. "My final year, my final race, (wife) Ingrid and the kids," Gordon said. "Kids motivate you in a whole new way, and no matter what we're going to go out and be happy and celebrate. "But to do it as a champion, oh, my gosh, I just can't imagine anything that would be more emotional and more exciting and more gratifying than to look at my wife in the eyes and see that reaction from her when that race is over if we win it." MORE: Drivers offer favorite Gordon memories
Jeff Gordon to drive pace car at Indy 500
Driver will compete in Coca-Cola 600 on same day
New Hampshire Motor Speedway: 25 Years, 25 Moments
Buy Tickets - SYLVANIA 300 New Hampshire Motor Speedway 's September event weekend will mark the facility's 25th Anniversary. Relive some of the top moments over the past 25 years. From Rusty Wallace capturing the inagural NASCAR Sprint Cup race win to Cole Custer becoming the youngest driver to visit Victory Lane in a National Series event - check out the top 25 moments below. 1. August 13, 1989: Groundbreaking for New Hampshire International Speedway (formerly Bryar Motorsports Park). 2. June 5, 1990: Track owner Bob Bahre and N.H. Governor Judd Gregg cut the ribbon to officially open “New Hampshire International Speedway.” 3. July 15, 1990: In NASCAR's debut at NHMS, Tommy Ellis wins the Grand National Series ( XFINITY ) race. 4. August 23, 1992: Joe Nemechek and Dale Earnhardt (Sr.) bump each other on the way to the finish line with Nemechek taking home the win. 5. July 11, 1993: Rusty Wallace wins the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race at NHMS. 6. July 9, 1995: Jeff Gordon earns his first win at NHMS en route to his first Cup Series championship. 7. July 14, 1996: Ernie Irvan captures the win in one of the more emotional victories in NASCAR history. The win came less than two years after Irvan suffered a near-fatal crash at Michigan, where he was given less than a 10 percent chance of survival. 8. June 28, 1998: In his final season as an IndyCar driver, Tony Stewart wins the IRL New England 200, his final career win in the series. 9. Sept. 17, 2000: Jeff Burton leads all 300 laps of the Dura Lube 300 to earn his record-setting fourth Cup Series win at NHMS. The race is infamously remembered for its use of restrictor plates. 10. Nov. 23, 2001: The New Hampshire 300 runs as the last race of the season on Friday after Thanksgiving. Robby Gordon wins the race and Jeff Gordon holds the Sprint Cup Series trophy for the fourth time. 11. Sept. 19, 2004: The Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship debuts with its opening race, the SYLVANIA 300. Kurt Busch wins the race and goes on to become crowned Champion. 12. Sept. 18, 2005: Robby Gordon chucks his helmet at Michael Waltrip after a wreck on the backstretch. 13. June 28, 2008: Chuck Hossfeld edges Ted Christopher by 0.001 seconds in the Whelen Modified Tour’s New England 100, the closest margin of victory in speedway history. 14. June 28, 2009: Joey Logano becomes the youngest winner in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history at 19 years, 35 days. 15. Sept. 20, 2009: Fifty-year-old Mark Martin takes the lead in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship with the 40th and final win of his illustrious career. It was his first and only win at NHMS. 16. June 26, 2010: Kyle Busch ends a streak of 23 straight different winners at NHMS in the XFINITY Series by becoming the first two-time series winner in the track's history. He also won the '09 race and followed up with wins in '11 and '13. 17. July 16, 2011: Kyle Busch earns his 100th NASCAR National Series win and ties Mark Martin ’s record for most XFINITY Series wins with 49. 18. Sept. 25, 2011: Tony Stewart assumes his only lead in the SYLVANIA 300 with two to go when Clint Bowyer runs out of gas. The win was Stewart’s second in as many Chase races and propelled him to the championship. 19. July 14, 2012: NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Mike Stefanik beats Ron Silk in the Whelen Modified Tour Town Fair Tire 100 by 0.003 seconds. 20. Sept. 23, 2012: Denny Hamlin follows through on his guarantee to win, and celebrates with military personnel in victory lane. 21. July 11, 2013: Toomas Topi Heikkinen wins the SYVLANIA SilverStar zXe Global RallyCross race when leader Tanner Foust crashes on the final hairpin turn. 22. July 14, 2013: Part-time driver Brian Vickers wins the Camping World RV Sales 301, his first win since battling back from blood clots in his legs and lungs that threatened his life. 23. July 11, 2014: Ryan Newman wins the inaugural Modified All-Star Shootout event, a combination race between the best of the Whelen Modified Tour and Whelen Southern Modified Tour. 24. July 13, 2014: Brad Keselowski ties a NASCAR record by becoming the 13th different non-repeat winner at the same track in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. 25. Sept. 20, 2014: At 16 years, seven months and 28 days, Cole Custer wins the NASCAR Camping World Truck s Series UNOH 175 to become the youngest winner of a NASCAR National Series race.