The fans cheered on the driver of the No. 24 despite the disappointing end to his final Brickyard 400.
The fans were screaming, “Jeff! Jeff! Jeff!”
They have done that many times at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, including during each of his NASCAR-best five victories at the Brickyard 400.
However, Sunday was the last time Gordon will hear those cheers as a driver – he is retiring as a fulltime competitor at season’s end.
Right now, I’m not thinking about this being my last Brickyard 400 ... We have a lot of season left to go
At it wasn’t the ending he had hoped, either. Gordon wrecked on Lap 50 of the Brickyard 400 while trying to avoid a spinning Clint Bowyer. The damage to his No. 24 Chevrolet was extensive and required a long stay in the garage for repairs.
He eventually got back out on the track but was long out of contention. He ended up 42nd.
Fans still cheer
“That was just unfortunate. Not the day we wanted to have. We had a great car all weekend and I was real happy with the way things were going,” said Gordon as he acknowledged the fans’ cheers on the frontstretch after the race.
“I thought we were starting to make some headway in the race. I thought things were kind of looking good for us. Then (Bowyer) got sideways and we were trying to avoid him. Somehow I got turned into the wall.”
Gordon’s team worked feverishly on his car to repair the damage with sweat pouring from crew members in the heat and humidity. They basically rebuilt the nose and rear end of the car so Gordon could return to the track.
Getting the wounded No. 24 to the finish
“You never want to be in that position, but it’s impressive to see what they do,” Gordon said. “The car was really good there at the end – they obviously did a good job getting it all back together.”
I’ll never forget that inaugural Brickyard 400 (which he won) and the way the people cheered for me that day and stayed around after we won
Jeff Gordon on 1994 Brickyard 400
While he said he would not have liked to end his final race at the Brickyard in the garage, getting back on the track was a competition-related move, not a nostalgic one.
“Right now, I’m not thinking about this being my last Brickyard 400; I’m not thinking about anything else other than the race, the points and the rest of the season – we have a lot of season left to go,” Gordon said.
“I think next year when I’m watching this race and I’m not in the driver’s seat, then I’ll probably reflect more and think about it. Right now, that’s not on my mind.”
An adopted Hoosier
It’s been a homecoming week for Gordon at Indy. On Thursday in nearby Pittsboro, Ind. – from where his racing career took off – he was honored with a parade.
Gordon called the acceptance by the fans here a “highlight” of his career.
“The day at Pittsboro on Thursday was very special to me and I’ll never forget that,” he said. “I’ll never forget that inaugural Brickyard 400 (which he won) and the way the people cheered for me that day and stayed around after we won.
“Even though we have other true Indiana drivers in the field that they cheer for as well, it’s always meant a great deal to me.”