Jeff Gordon Returns To Darlington For One Final Dance With The Lady In Blackby Benjamin Sanders August 31, 2016 0 comments
DARLINGTON, S.C. – The Lady in Black is one of the most difficult racetracks in all of NASCAR, and many who try to dance with her, get their toes stepped on; however, Jeff Gordon has tamed the legendary Darlington Raceway seven times, and he will try to make it eight in his final Bojangles’ Southern 500 this weekend.
Jeff Gordon initially ended his with 93 victories and going out in style battling for a championship but leaving Darlington with his 94th NASCAR Sprint Cup would add to his legacy that much more. With Dale Earnhardt Jr. sidelined with serious concussion-like symptoms, Gordon will return to Darlington for one final dance with the Lady in Black.
“Darlington has always been one of my favorite tracks,” Gordon said. “I think everybody knew after seeing how well the throwback idea was received last year that this year would be even better and taken to another level, so I’m excited about being there and being a part of that.”
Although this situation is less than ideal for the four-time champion and NASCAR’s most popular driver, the team has posted top 10 finishes in the last three races at the track Too Tough To Tame. Earnhardt Jr. was supposed to be piloting his favorite paint scheme-The Gray Ghost driven by Buddy Baker- as part of NASCAR’s Throwback Weekend which had been unveiled at the race track in April.
“Dale designed this paint scheme after Buddy Baker’s because it was one of his favorites,” Gordon said. “I was a big Buddy Baker fan and knowing that Buddy won the Daytona 500 in that paint scheme is very cool. I’m looking forward to working with Greg (Ives, No. 88 crew chief) and this team again; I’ve really enjoyed the experience.”
After first taming Darlington Raceway in 1995, Gordon went on to win a further six times over the next 12 seasons, including the Winston Million in 1997. He culminated with an astonishing victory in 2007, when steam was shooting out of the radiator overflow like a railroad locomotive for more than 30 laps.
It has been no secret that Hendrick Motorsports has struggled this season. With just two races to go until the Chase for the Sprint Cup, only Jimmie Johnson has claimed victories this season at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Auto Club Speedway. Johnson is also currently the only driver within the organization that’s solidly locked into the playoffs. However, last weekend’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway may have been the momentum shift the organization was looking for as all four Chevrolets were strong throughout the entire weekend.
As for Gordon, he has admitted that he has been rusty and devoid of competitive laps this season, but few would be surprised if the four-time champion drove into Gatorade Victory Lane one last time on Sunday night.