Gordon reflective but still driven to win in final season

Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon waits before lunch as a fan holds a sign requesting a selfie during "Jeff Gordon Day" at Klyde Warren Park on March 12, 2015 in Dallas, Texas.

Mike Stone

DALLAS –€“ The Jeff Gordon Farewell Tour has included some pretty cool moments for the four time Sprint Cup champion.

Unfortunately for Gordon, few of those moments have come with the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet has been in a race.

Despite starting on the pole twice in three races Gordon has two finishes outside the top 30 and is 30th in points behind such NASCAR superstars as Michael Annett, Brett Moffitt and Michael McDowell.

But Gordon knows it’s way too early for him to turn his final full time Sprint Cup season from a drive for title No. 5 into a going through the motions year.

"I think we won the championship one year and the first two races finished like 40th or worse," Gordon said. "Different format. Different set of circumstances but to me I’ve always said if we’re competitive and running good then that’s what’s going to matter most because the results are going to start coming eventually. It’s not fun to start out like this. We had a lot of confidence and momentum coming off last year. Luckily we’ve gotten those two poles because those two poles have kept the confidence there. We’ve had some good moments throughout the races but we’re going to have to follow those up with results to keep that confidence high."

Gordon’s confidence was high Thursday as he did doughnuts in Dallas’ Klyde Warren Park and was honored in an afternoon ceremony as he was on hand to help promote next month’s Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. It’s a sight that’s starting to become common for Gordon, 43, who announced his retirement before the 2015 season kicked off.

While his goal is to win a championship he is also taking some time to soak things in.

"No rocking chairs thankfully not yet," Gordon said. "I think that’s probably the advantage of doing it (retiring) a little bit earlier in life, a little bit earlier than most. When you look at where I’m at on the track from a competition standpoint. It’s been nothing but amazing the way fans have been at tracks, NASCAR, everybody, the experience has been incredible. Other than the performance as far as results at the track everything’s been a phenomenal start to the season."

And a phenomenal career. When Gordon started in the Sprint Cup series he was the outsider that won too many races and didn’t fit in the NASCAR culture.

Now more than 20 years after his career started and 92 victories later there’s a deeper appreciation for all Gordon has done for the sport.

"He’s grown into the elder statesman, from wonder boy to elder statesman," TMS president Eddie Gossage said. "And Jeff really is a transformative figure in this sport’s history, probably more than just about anybody. Maybe Richard Petty, Jimmie (Johnson) has more championships, but I would say Jeff is a little bit more of a big deal because when he came along it (NASCAR) was predominantly North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee that kind of thing. Now I think there’s one driver from North Carolina and eight from California."

Gordon realizes that now too.

"Looking back on it by having the success and doing things different it did open up some unique opportunities and doors that did help grow the sport and bring unique and different fans and new fans to the sport," he said. "For that I’m very honored and proud to be a part of that. But I feel like I’m one of a 100 to play a role in that."


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