Jeff Gordon Named Grand Marshal of Pep Boys Auto 500 NEXTEL Cup Race at Atlanta Motor Speedway with Richard Petty Serving as Honorary Starter HAMPTON, Ga. (Oct. 3, 2007) -- Commemorating the 15th anniversary of what many call the...
Jeff Gordon Named Grand Marshal of Pep Boys Auto 500 NEXTEL Cup Race at Atlanta Motor Speedway with Richard Petty Serving as Honorary Starter
HAMPTON, Ga. (Oct. 3, 2007) -- Commemorating the 15th anniversary of what many call the single greatest race in NASCAR history, Jeff Gordon will serve as the Grand Marshal for the Oct. 28 Pep Boys Auto 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, giving the command for the drivers to start their engines. Joining Gordon in pre-race honors, Richard Petty has been named as the race's honorary starter, waving the green flag and signaling the start of the race.
The fall race at AMS on Nov. 15, 1992, saw seven-time Cup Series champion Richard Petty take the checkered flag for the final time in his long, storied career and 21-year-old rookie driver Jeff Gordon take the green flag for his first start in a NEXTEL Cup Series event.
"Looking back on that race in November, 1992 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, it was a race that will always be a significant part of NASCAR history," Petty said. "It was my last race, Jeff Gordon's first race and the championship battle came down to just a few points. I will never forget that day in Atlanta and it is an honor to serve at the Honorary Starter in October."
In recognition of his 15th anniversary in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and his 31st start at AMS, Gordon will give the infamous command, "Gentlemen, start your engines," prior to the start of the Pep Boys Auto 500.
"It's an honor to give the command prior to the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway -- the track where my NASCAR Cup Series career began 15 years ago," said Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet. "For the first time, the entire crowd may actually cheer for something I did."
Adding to the fanfare of Petty's last ride, the championship points battle came down to a mere 10-point deficit with eventual champion Alan Kulwicki beating Bill Elliott for the title. Petty's day ended with a fiery crash on lap 95, but he came back to complete the final three laps, eventually taking the checkered flag.
While Petty's career ended, Jeff Gordon was just shifting out of first gear. To date, the California native has earned 79 victories, including four at AMS, 310 top-10 finishes and four championships in NASCAR's elite series.
"A lot of great things have happened to me at Atlanta Motor Speedway," Gordon said. "We won our first Busch Grand National race there. I sat on the pole that day and Rick Hendrick just happened to be watching. If he hadn't been watching, he might not have hired me. The track has been real good to us."
To see Petty and Gordon get the Pep Boys Auto 500 started, fans can purchase tickets by calling 877-9-AMS-TIX (877-926-7849), 770-946-4211 or by visiting www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.