He won’t race Le Mans, but Jeff Gordon wants to make his 2023 debut at another famed track David Gravel swept first two World of Outlaws Sprint Car races in doubleheader
Although he will no longer compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans as part of the NASCAR Garage 56 project, Jeff Gordon says his racing days will likely continue.
The four-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion is set to make his debut at Weather Tech Raceway Laguna Seca. in the Porsche Deluxe Carrera Cup in North America race weekend 29 sept.-oct. 1. This is the main event Porsche Rennsport Reunion VII on the road.
Racing at the famous highway circuit in Monterey, California was a dream come true for Gordon, who grew up a few hours north in Vallejo.
“We’re still looking at it,” Gordon said during a Feb. 8 press conference. promote next month’s receiving the honor at The Amelia 2023 event. “I have never raced this track and going back home to my home state this track has always been on my radar. I don’t know if we can keep up with the schedule.”
Gordon will once again team with fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer Ray Evernham, his main teammate for three NASCAR Cup Series championships.
Last September, Gordon competed in the IMSA-sanctioned Porsche Carrera Cup at the 14-turn, 2,439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In a field of 33 Porsche 911 GT3s, Gordon made two starts and nearly made it into the top ten (including last lap pass “it made my weekend” in the second race).
While he improved over the weekend, the event also came as a wake-up call for Gordon, who has not raced since being part of the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona winning team with Wayne Taylor Racing.
“The real realization that I had when we held the event last year in Indianapolis is that this is not a series for retirees,” Gordon, 51, said with a laugh. “These guys are taking it very seriously; they put a lot of effort into it. And when I first went out on the track and got a kick in the ass, I realized that I had to shift into another gear and put a completely different level of effort into it, which was not the intention of this event. It was fun.
“But we managed to find a way to pick up speed and have some fun by the end of the event. So I just realized that you have to drive and you have to test and spend a lot of time on the car and the track and everything. So let’s see if the event (Laguna Seca) happens.”
Gordon’s return to competitive racing came when he considered joining the Garage 56 line, a joint project between Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR, Goodyear and Chevrolet that would put the next generation Camaro in the 100cc race.th course of the 24 Hours of Le Mans race.
Although Rick Hendrick wanted to put Gordon in the spot, a three-drive Garage 56 line-up was announced last month that included seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller and 2009 F1 champion Jenson Button. Hendrick Motorsports president Geoff Andrews said Gordon “made a really good decision” given the quality of the squad.
Hendrick, competition VP Chad Knaus, who oversees Garage 56, said Gordon “wanted to be a part of it if he had to be a part of it, and that’s where Jeff was.
“Jeff is obviously a huge asset to us,” Knaus said last month after the line-up was announced at Daytona International Speedway. “So he gave a lot of guidance when we talked to Jimmy and Rocky. But when you pick these guys who are currently active and Jeff wasn’t super active and with their powers that these guys bring, he’s like, “Dude, I think I know what I need to do, and that’s it, what he’s doing helps us get through it all.” ‘
Gordon, who became vice chairman and co-owner of Hendrick Motorsports. in June 2021will take part in Le Mans this year as a leader after attending last year’s race for the first time.
“It was just amazing,” he said. “And especially this year 100th anniversary to be a part of this through Garage 56’s partnerships with NASCAR, Chevrolet, Goodyear and Hendrick. It’s something really special, although I won’t be participating in this event.”
Now Gordon likes to be in a colorful and exotic grid chock-full of GTs and prototypes. He credits Evernham and Hendrick’s passion for cars as turning him into a “car enthusiast” after he retired from driving full-time in 2015.
“I find this niche and place for myself where I still want to drive cars, and I am fascinated by how the cars behave on the track,” he said. “But also collecting cars and building my own collection of cars that I admired as a child or cars that I admire today.
“That makes this job interesting for me because I compete and play a role in the business side of Hendrick Motorsports, but I can also spread my wings in other areas of car culture, whether through General Motors. Motors or Hendrick Automotive Group. Or doing projects like Ray and I last year at the IMSA sports car show at Indy and The Amelia.”
Join us Saturday, March 4 from 6:30 pm to 10 pm for an exciting evening in honor of NASCAR Hall of Famer and Vice Chairman @TeamHendrick, @JeffGordonWeb.
Tickets are limited. Get your ticket today: https://t.co/d4p69eagPr. pic.twitter.com/KBMPI5XcKi
— Amelia (@AmeliaConcours) January 13, 2023
Gordon will be the guest of honor on March 2-5 at Amelia Island Golf Club, Florida, for 28th annual Amelia Concours D’Elegance (which will present awards to 250 historically significant vehicles nominated in 32 classes). The Amelia will also feature Evernham, who is helping honor Gordon’s memory and also leads the Corvette team at Le Mans.
Although he is “folding” his car collection, Evernham said he has become interested in vintage Ferraris as well as cars from IROC (a series of stars in which he began working as a mechanic 40 years ago). The legendary crew chief is also keen to work on the track with Gordon again.
“Jeff is very special in my life as a little brother,” Evernham said. “We met in 1990, and this magic appeared almost immediately.
“I’m waiting for my buddy Jeff to give us the (racing) schedule. I had to find out pretty quickly about these Porsche Carrera Cup races and some of the other things he wants to do. We had a great time playing Indy last year and I’m looking forward to doing some more fun stuff with Jeff. We had a small game day at (Virginia International Raceway). We have fun servicing (his vintage cars) and are ready to take him to the race track again.”
David Gravel took the World of Outlaws Opening Day win with a pair of wins in the Friday afternoon and evening doubleheaders at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida, and came close to six wins from No. 10 on the all-time win list.
Originally scheduled one day early on Thursday, the Outlaws sprints took on the checkered flag only to see it rain as they go to stretch.
“I really wanted to race last night after how well our car did in the Dash, but now I obviously can’t complain.” This is stated in the Gravel post.. “You never know when you’re racing at the start of the day, so I was a little worried about how it would end up. It’s tough with the equipment so wide open, but Brian Morrison has built a great engine for us.”
Starting fourth in the first part of the day, Gravel advanced quickly to pass Anthony Macri on lap 11. The last 15 laps have been a breeze for Gravel – now he is good, not the one that was flooded with rain. He finished ahead of Michael “Buddy” Kofoyd and led in points in the 2023 Outlaws campaign.
Any concerns Gravel might have had about the two-race engine were quickly put aside. Seven hours later, after waiting out another long puff of rain, Gravel was back on Pobedy Lane.
Gravel beat Kofoid in both races, but in race 2 he had to take a new line to avoid bumps caused by excessive wear.
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“That was strange,” Gravel spoke about his pass for the lead. “I felt like something suddenly changed because the bottom was right for that long green flag run, but the top that used to feel like crap was amazing when relaunched. I don’t know if it was because of the temperature of the tires or maybe the moisture from the fog, but it worked great. I think this rough stuff was enough to topple the car and it bit Buddy as he went down.”
Judging by the numbers, Gravel’s victory was memorable. His 78th win brings him closer to equaling Brad Sweet at 11th on the all-time list. With five more during the season, they will overtake Stevie Smith in 10th place.
Gravel became the second driver to win three consecutive races at Volusia (tied with Steve Kinser in 2010-11), the sixth driver to win a pair of races in the same day, and the seventh to start the season with two consecutive victories. .
A second-place finish in both races may have given Kofoid a great shot at the title in his first season of regular racing with the Outlaws, but it was still a bitter pill to swallow.
“Obviously this rider stings a little more as he actually led the race, but overall it’s a really great result,” said Kofoid. “I have to constantly remind myself that I am new to this place, our team is still…