SONOMA, Calif. – No matter the result of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event, this will be a memorable weekend for five-time Infineon Raceway winner Jeff Gorvette. Er, Jeff Gordon.
Gordon, a native of Vallejo, Calif., has a busy weekend planned. On Friday, he will practice and qualify the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet at Infineon while also traveling the world as Jeff Gorvette—assisting buddies Lightning McQueen and Mater—in Disney- Pixar’s new release Cars2.
On Saturday after practice, Gordon and family will celebrate daughter Ella’s birthday (she turned four years old on June 20). On Sunday, the all-time leader in Sprint Cup Series road course victories will attempt to reach double-digit wins at Infineon and Watkins Glen International combined.
“There’s no doubt this is probably my favorite weekend of racing, regardless of what happens on the track,” said Gordon, who will drive the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet this weekend. “It’s just a magical time for me with my daughter’s birthday party, seeing my biological father and other family members, and seeing friends I went to elementary school with and raced with out here.
“It’s just a special weekend and it puts me in an incredibly positive frame of mind going into the race on Sunday.”
Along with five wins here, Gordon has five pole positions, 11 top-five finishes and 14 top-10s in 18 starts. He has led 437 laps, which is 276 more laps than the nearest active competitor, Mark Martin. To put that in perspective, Martin could lead wire-to-wire in the next two events here and he would still trail Gordon by 56 laps in that category.
But the four-time Cup champion has not led a lap here in four years, and the No. 24 team has worked hard to correct that.
“We’ve struggled on the road courses recently, and that’s not something we’re accustomed to,” said Gordon, who is 12th in the Sprint Cup standings. “It’s not something we like, so we tested at Mid-Ohio and have been working really hard to make improvements.
“I’m hoping that test will get us closer to being more competitive this weekend. This is a very challenging track. On a road course, you typically want to attack the braking zones. Here, with the elevation changes and the off-cambered corners, you have to be very careful not to over-attack or drive too hard.
“Hopefully we find the right balance with speed this weekend.”
But before Gordon battles the Sprint Cup regulars in northern California on Sunday, Gorvette will race into theaters beginning Friday.
“My role is fairly small,” Gorvette said. “Lightning McQueen and Mater and some of his buddies are in the movie, and I’m one of their new buddies. It’s an international spy thriller, so they go all over the world. It was a blast.”