Jeff Gordon named pace car driver for 99th Indianapolis 500
In an exclusive interview with FOXSports.com, four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon said his two favorite race victories came at Indianapolis Motor Speedway — the inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1994 and last year’s Brickyard.
And now, as his final season in NASCAR continues, Gordon will try his hand in the Indianapolis 500 — as the pace car driver.
Gordon, a five-time Brickyard 400 winner who grew up in nearby Pittsboro, Indiana, will drive a Chevrolet Corvette Z06 pace car in the 99th Indy 500 on May 24 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"The inaugural Brickyard 400 — it changed my life," Gordon told FOXSports.com. "I wanted to race at Indianapolis as a kid and didn’t get to do that in the Indy 500 and then got to do that in the inaugural Brickyard 400. Just racing in that event meant a lot to me. To go win it meant more than I could ever imagine. Of course, last year doing it with the kids there, getting to kiss the bricks with Ingrid, Ella and Leo probably stacks right up there with it. Indy is just a special place to me, and I think it has to do with the open-wheel background that I have."
Gordon and former Formula One star Michael Schumacher are the only two drivers to win five races at the fabled track. In an exhibition in 2003, Gordon drove Juan Pablo Montoya’s Williams Formula One car at the Brickyard, while Montoya tried out Gordon’s Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
Landing Gordon as the Indy 500 pace car driver is a coup for Chevrolet, which has had a long association with IMS.
"It’s great to have Jeff Gordon serve as this year’s pace car driver," said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports. "He is a true champion who has earned the respect and admiration of competitors and race fans alike. It will be very special to have Jeff lead the Indy 500 field to the green flag, behind the wheel of the most powerful and capable production car ever from Chevrolet â on a day he’ll also be competing in the Coca Cola 600 NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway."
"Jeff Gordon is a NASCAR legend, an icon of global motorsports and has a special history of success racing at The Brickyard in Indianapolis and the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte," said Brian France, NASCAR chairman and CEO. "This is a unique honor for him to be recognized in this way by our partners at Chevrolet and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The day certainly will be another special one in the storied history that Jeff already has written at Indianapolis and Charlotte."