Gordon's Car to DAYTONA USA

Winning Daytona 500 Race Car now at DAYTONA USA DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 17) -- Jeff Gordon won one of the most exciting Daytona 500s ever on Feb. 16 in the 39th edition of "The World's Greatest Race," but a day later he was just...

Winning Daytona 500 Race Car now at DAYTONA USA

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 17) -- Jeff Gordon won one of the most exciting Daytona 500s ever on Feb. 16 in the 39th edition of "The World's Greatest Race," but a day later he was just as excited about visiting DAYTONA USA, "The Ultimate Motorsports Attraction" located outside turn four at Daytona International Speedway. Gordon's No. 24 DuPont Refinishes Chevrolet has taken its place in Gatorade Victory Lane inside the attraction. The rainbow-hued Monte Carlo, scarred with the grime of 500 tough miles and carrying lurid black rubber marks along its right side -- souvenirs of a late-race tangle with Dale Earnhardt -- will hold its place of distinction for the next year, replacing Dale Jarrett's No. 88 Quality Care/Ford Credit Ford, which won the 1996 Daytona 500. "That's the whole honor of winning this race," said Gordon prior to the unveiling. "To take that car, as it was as it left that race track, and to present it to DAYTONA USA -- and to know it's gonna be there on display for a year -- is really exciting. "I absolutely want to come visit more often!" raved Gordon, who at age 25 became the youngest driver to win the Daytona 500. "I'll probably be visiting more than Jeff -- taking measurements," shot back crew chief Ray Evernham, whose responsibility will be replacing the winning car in the Hendrick Motorsports stable. "You hate to lose a good car, but on the other hand you've got your stuff sitting in front of hundreds of thousands of people. It's bragging rights -- we're sitting there as king of the hill until this same time next year." Gatorade Victory Lane is a realistic recreation of the Speedway's famous gathering place for winners. The display features Gordon's battle-scarred car along with his racing gloves, helmet and a towel used in the post-race celebration. With Victory Lane signage as a backdrop, Gordon's car sits atop a bright, black-and-white checkered flag floor. DAYTONA USA guests enter Gatorade Victory Lane after watching "The Daytona 500," the attraction's premier show. This presentation offers a 15-minute video pre-show that visitors watch from replicas of the Speedway's grandstand entry ramps. Once they enter the 268-seat Pepsi Theater, guests become immersed in the Daytona 500 through a 14-minute feature film, shot on 70mm and projected onto a 55-by-24 foot screen. Surround-sound audio adds to the effect of being in the driver's seat. Admission to DAYTONA USA, which features a wide variety of hands-on motorsports-related activities, is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors 60 and over and $6 for children 6-12. Western Auto's Parts America Speedway Tour, a 30-minute tram excursion with plenty of stops for unique Daytona photo opportunities, is $6 per person. DAYTONA USA and the Speedway Tour are free for children under 6. For more information on DAYTONA USA call (904) 947-6800. Gordon, meanwhile, is counting the days until his next DAYTONA USA visit. "I haven't been this excited as a race car driver, that I know of, in my whole career," said the Vallejo, Calif., native who led a historic one-two-three sweep by Hendrick Motorsports cars in the process of winning his 20th career NASCAR Winston Cup victory and fifth race at Daytona. "That just shows you how much this race really means to me. This is a great place to race -- I think we saw an exciting race. Certainly this is the biggest moment of my career, to date. I don't know if we could ever top this one. It was really a lot of fun!" "We've won a lot of races and we've won the Winston Cup championship," echoed Evernham, who's been with Gordon since he broke into NASCAR racing in the Busch Series. "But winning the Daytona 500 was such a fulfilling feeling -- I can't even explain it to you. It's an awesome feeling to know that even if we never win another race, and I think we'll win some other races, that yesterday made my career full." "I hate to part with the car, but it's just a machine," summed-up Evernham. "We can duplicate it."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Ray Evernham
Teams Hendrick Motorsports