Low Key Week In NYC
NEW YORK, N.Y. (November 30) - Jeff Gordon's agenda leading up to the awards banquet in New York City was noticeably lighter than he would have hoped for. Since he did not claim the "chase for the championship," Gordon accepted a points fund check in the amount of $3,280,915 as the season runner-up. "While this year didn't end with a championship, I'm still proud of my team's efforts this year," Gordon said. He lauded crew chief Steve Letarte for leading the team back to championship form. His only other live national television appearance during the week came on "Good Morning America" on Wednesday morning. The top-10 drivers paraded through midtown Manhattan completing a lap around Broadway and Madison Avenue. Gordon also participated in several awards functions leading up to Friday night's main ceremony.
NEW YORK, N.Y. (November 30) - Jason Burdett will return to Jeff Gordon's team in 2008 to serve as car chief. He replaces Jeff Meendering who left earlier this month to become the crew chief for Bobby Labonte at Petty Enterprises. Burdett had been serving as Dale Jarrett's crew chief with Michael Waltrip Racing. "He came up in the 24/48 shop, and was a car chief there before he left," team owner Rick Hendrick said. "He's got crew chief experience, but wants to come back to be a car chief. The maturity he has, plus he's already worked with those guys, he should be a natural." After helping Gordon secure his fourth NASCAR championship in 2001, he became the car chief on the newly formed #48 team. While part of the #48 team, he helped the driver score three wins and finish second in the closest Rookie-of-the-Year battle in the modern NASCAR era. Meendering's departure was not unexpected after he performed admirably as interim crew chief for six races for Gordon during the summer of 2007. Gordon finished inside the top-10 in each of those starts, with a top result of second. He left with his teammates' blessings. "You can't ever not support a guy like that," Gordon said. "Here's a guy who was great in our organization, and has an opportunity to be a crew chief where he didn't have that opportunity at Hendrick. He really had gotten as high up as he was going to get, certainly for the next few years anyway. When he gets that kind of opportunity, you thank him for all that he's done and you make an easy transition for him. I loved working with him in the six-week span that Steve Letarte wasn't there. I hate that we didn't get a win when he was a crew chief. But I think that he's going to be a hard guy to replace, for sure. He'll make a great crew chief."
Dividing Time In 2008
NEW YORK, N.Y. (November 30) - Jeff Gordon's primary sponsors will remain in place for 2008, but their presence on his car will be adjusted. DuPont has been Gordon's sponsor since his Cup series debut in 1992. For 2008, the company will be the primary sponsor on Gordon's car for 28 out of the 36 races. Pepsi, as it typically does, will take the primary position for 2 races next year, which will be at Daytona and Talladega. Nicorette purchased the primary space on Gordons car for 6 races in 2008, up from 4 in 2007. Gordon's sponsor contracts run thru the 2010 season. "I can tell you is that 2010 is when our contracts are ending and probably 2009 is a year that's going to have a lot of decision-making for me," he said.
NEW YORK, N.Y. (November 19) - The disappointment exuded from Jeff Gordon's voice in the moments after he exited his car following the race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. But during an interview on pit road, he did something that no other driver did in the post-race scene: he thanked the people who've supported him all year. "I have to thank the fans," Gordon said. "They've been so supportive. Going for the fifth championship this year, to have all my fans all over the country pushing us saying 'you can do it, you can get it done' meant the world to me. I hate that we didn't get it done for them." Decades from now, Gordon isn't going to find himself thinking, "I wish we would have been more aggressive with setups at the end of 2007." No way. He's likely to say "2007? The year Ella was born. The year we took our first trip to Mexico as a family." We spend so much time slaving toward a perception of paradise-- whether it's a new car, a bigger house, the corner office, or even the fifth championship, when in fact paradise just walked by wearing a hockey jersey a size too big and grinning ear-to-ear talking about the street hockey game under the lights in sub-40 degree weather. And there's no professional achievement that can hold a candle to it.
NEW YORK, N.Y. (November 20) - Jeff Gordon capped off the 2007 season with a 4th place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway. However, he came up 77 points short in the chase for the championship. Gordon scored 30 top-10 finishes in 36 races (a modern-era record) in what seemed like a championship season for the balance of the year. He scored six victories and had the highest average finishing position of his NASCAR career. But his championship hopes evaporated in the late autumn sunsets at Martinsville, Atlanta, Texas, and Phoenix as his teammate reeled off four straight victories. While Gordon scored the most total points for the 2007 season, he goes home without a championship for the sixth straight year. The off-season brings a slower pace-- something Gordon has been looking forward to. "The off-season always comes at a time when it is mixed emotions," Gordon said. "You are happy that the season is over and you get to rest a little bit, but you don't get to rest much because it seems like it flies by. I have two weeks already booked out of things I have to do work wise to get ready for our sponsors for next year." Sponsor obligations take up early December and testing is on the docket for January. That leaves a scant few weeks to enjoy things as they are. "I am looking forward to Christmas and New Years the most," he said. "Thanksgiving, I am going to spend time with my family in North Carolina. Then Christmas and New Years I look forward to spending time with friends and Ingrid and the baby just hanging out. Those are the three things I am looking forward to the most."
AVONDALE, AZ. (November 10) - "It's over." Jeff Gordon's on-camera proclamation after getting out of his car at the end of the Checker 500 at Phoenix International Raceway put an exclamation point on Jimmie Johnson's fourth consecutive victory and commanding lead in the points standings. It was akin to a political candidate offering a concession speech before all of the votes were counted. "It's over, you know, it's over," Gordon said. "Even if we win it, it's because they had problems and while we'll accept it, we don't want to do it that way. Those guys have flat out killed everybody. Those guys deserve a lot of credit. We didn't step up and win the races when we needed to. We gave them a run for awhile. Now we have to figure out how to get the best finish we can at Homestead and end the season on a positive note going into the off-season." Gordon's 10th place finish at Phoenix was his 30th top-10 finish in 35 races. However, he battled handling problems for the balance of the race and was unable to make headway toward the front when track position seemed to fall in his favor with 100 laps to go. Gordon trails by 86 points heading into the final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway -- he's lost more than 150 points to Johnson in the last four races. "We're not hitting on it and it's unfortunate," Gordon said. "We're coming up short at the crucial time."
AVONDALE, AZ. (November 10) - Jeff Gordon spent a few days in Mexico with his wife this week celebrating their one-year anniversary. Gordon and Ingrid Vandebosch were married in Mexico on November 7, 2006. While there, they ran into Jimmie Johnson and his wife on vacation. "My wife and I got married in Mexico a year ago so we were celebrating our anniversary plus it was Ingrid's birthday as well so we were also in Mexico in a very close location to them," Gordon said. "We knew they were going to be down there. We didn't know if we were going to run into one another and we actually did end up running into him and saying hello, you know kind of business as usual. But we had a relaxing time. There's no American TV there, no newspapers, my phone didn't work -- it was a great time and total focus on the family. I can't believe I've been married for a year. It was the perfect place to go in between Texas and Phoenix. It's the perfect place on the schedule and that's why we had gotten married in Mexico. I knew a couple of weeks ago that (Jimmie and Chandra) were going to be down there. We were in an area about 20 minutes away from them, but we thought it would be funny if we saw them. But we were on our way back at the time. Ella was getting near the time to be fed so we needed to be home. It wasn't like we sat down and reminisced about his win in Texas. We talked about doing lunch the next day, but it didn't work out."
LONE STAR STATE. (November 4) - Jeff Gordon finds himself in an unfamiliar position heading into the final two races of the season -- trailing in the points standings. Gordon's 7th place finish at Texas Motor Speedway, combined with Jimmie Johnson's third consecutive win, put him at a 30 point deficit. Gordon battled handling issues for the balance of the race at Texas, but managed to make up a few positions in the closing stages. However, for the second week in a row, it was simply a case of too little, too late. "We're just fighting too hard for these kind of finishes," Gordon said. "We need to be fighting that hard for wins. We just flat out got beat. We weren't very good from the start-- we weren't very good yesterday. I thought we could adjust on it and get it right. There at the end was the best we were so we made the most of it. Those guys are just outperforming us. It's still close, but they're spanking us. They're putting it to us. I don't like it. We're very competitive and we're just getting beat. We've got to go to work. We've got to get it back. Those guys have done an excellent job coming from behind there a little bit when we won those couple of races, and now here they are with 3 in-a-row and they're on a great roll. We've got to answer back. That's all there is to it." For now though, Gordon has other priorities on his agenda. "I'm going to celebrate my anniversary of being married for one year, and my wife's birthday, and go to Phoenix," he said.
NEW YORK, N.Y. (November 3) - Jeff Gordon spent the last week in October on the New York City social scene. On Tuesday night, Gordon and his wife, Ingrid, attended the Wall Street Concert Series featuring Lenny Kravitz, which supported UNICEF and The Sarah Ferguson Foundation. On Halloween night, the couple dressed up as pirates and attended the Roberto Cavalli Halloween party to benefit Children in Crisis and The Happy Hearts Fund at Cipriani's. "I didn't watch any racing shows during the week, I didn't read anything in the papers this week," Gordon said on Friday. "I just wanted to enjoy a little bit of Halloween, but also be able to just take my mind off of everything."
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