BIG (POINTS?) WEEKEND IN STORE FOR GORDON SONOMA, Calif. (June 17, 2008) - The pre-race festivities are already planned for five-time Infineon Raceway winner Jeff Gordon, but could he be the "guest of honor" in the celebration following Sunday's...
BIG (POINTS?) WEEKEND IN STORE FOR GORDON
SONOMA, Calif. (June 17, 2008) - The pre-race festivities are already planned for five-time Infineon Raceway winner Jeff Gordon, but could he be the "guest of honor" in the celebration following Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350?
Gordon, who grew up in nearby Vallejo, has many fond memories of this race weekend. Along with his record number of victories at the road course, Gordon has collected nine top-fives and 11 top-10's in 15 starts. Off the track, the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion announced his engagement to Ingrid Vandebosch here in 2006. Last year, his daughter was born just prior to this race.
"It's a special weekend for us," Gordon said. "We've had a lot of success at Sonoma. So, from the team's perspective, this is a race we are really looking forward to.
"My daughter, Ella, will have her first birthday this Friday. For years, we've hosted an event in Napa Valley that allowed us to bring friends and family together, and now we're able to celebrate her birthday, as well.
"Being a parent is a lot of hard work and one of the toughest things I've ever done, but it's also the most gratifying and exciting thing I've ever been a part of." Hard work also contributed to Gordon's success at the 1.99-mile serpentine track.
"I had never driven a 'big' car on a road course and, even growing up close to here, had never seen this track before I raced in NASCAR," Gordon said. "And my first experience was one I'd definitely like to put behind me. I was in the tire wall and off the track more than on it.
"But we worked hard and seemed to learn fast. I went to a couple road racing schools to hone my skills, and this DuPont team worked on the braking and transmission aspects of the car."
Last year marked the introduction of the "Car of Tomorrow" at road course events, and Gordon pointed to one corner to explain the differences.
"You can't carry the corner speed with this car like you could with the older version," said Gordon. "We're on bump stops in the front, so the front suspension reacts quite differently.
"Going up the front straightaway to turn 1, you're braking and turning at the same time. You have to be careful about loading one corner of the car too abruptly under the braking zones."
Turning 1 is worthy of a celebration on Friday, and it may lead Gordon to further celebrations on Sunday.