Jeff Gordon strung together an incredible NASCAR career that cemented him as one of the greatest drivers in the sport’s history. Gordon’s success saw him go through many high-pressure moments on the track. However, there is one situation he experience involving Dale Earnhardt Jr. that had no equal in that regard in his eyes.
Jeff Gordon’s illustrious NASCAR career
Jeff Gordon accomplished it all on the track with numerous legacy-defining accolades across his two-plus decade NASCAR career.
Gordon has four Cup Series championships, ranks third all-time with 93 Cup Series wins, and took the checkered flag three times at the Daytona 500. He completed three career Grand Slams, along with becoming the youngest to win the Cup Series championship.
Gordon still holds the all-time mark with the most restrictor-plate track wins (12) and most road course victories (nine). He experienced many high-pressure moments throughout his career, but nothing came close to one situation on the track.
Jeff Gordon says he’s faced no greater pressure than replacing Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Jeff Gordon experienced many pressure-laden moments throughout his illustrious NASCAR career.
Gordon certainly knows a thing or two about all eyes being on him when he’s behind the wheel. During an interview in 2018 discussing Alex Bowman taking over as the next No. 88 car driver for Hendrick Motorsports, he voiced that he’s never felt any pressure like replacing Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“I don’t know if I’ve felt as much pressure trying to fill in for Dale Earnhardt, Jr.,” Gordon said. “I mean, there are cameras everywhere, everybody’s watching, wanting to see ‘what are you gonna do, what are you gonna do.'”
Gordon went through that experience in the 2016 season after he agreed to fill in for Earnhardt Jr., who was struggling to recover from concussion-like symptoms. Although Dale Jr. didn’t experience the same level of success his father had, he was the most popular driver in NASCAR.
That alone put the spotlight on Gordon every time he was behind the wheel. It also didn’t help him that he holds the reputation as one of the greatest drivers the sport has had.
Gordon re-entered the fray after choosing to retire after the 2015 season. He had the rust from being away from the sport for several months until July 2016. Gordon performed reasonably well given the circumstances finishing inside the top 15 six times, including twice in the top 10 over eight total races.
Spotlight will always remain
Since stepping into retirement, the spotlight has remained on Jeff Gordon in the broadcast booth.
When Gordon first began his job with Fox covering NASCAR, there were concerns with his ability to remain unbiased with his opinions. The 49-year-old has not only avoided that route but also become a staple in the industry.
Gordon has also honed his skills as an interviewer for broadcasted segments. His growth in that realm has helped him carve out a lasting career in that space. However, his greatest challenge may still lie ahead when he eventually takes over control of Hendrick Motorsports after Rick Hendrick retires.
He will be responsible for handling a $350 million business that has become a cornerstone in NASCAR. He will have the pressure on him to continue to guide the company forward.
It’s another opportunity ahead for him to take on a new challenge and find success as he has on the track and in the broadcast booth.