SONOMA, Calif. - Last Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, Jeff Gordon captured his 400th career top-10 finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series when he placed sixth in the 400-mile event.
With the start of that race delayed by rain and his children at home, Father’s Day was “delayed” for Gordon, as well. But attention this week will quickly turn from father to daughter as Ella celebrates her fifth birthday on Wednesday.
On Thursday, Gordon will head west to Sonoma for this weekend’s 110-lap event where he will attempt to become the first driver to reach double digits in victories on serpentine tracks.
“It will be a busy but fun week,” said Gordon, a native of nearby Vallejo. “We’ll have some fun with Ella’s party before heading out to an area I love for so many reasons.
“It’s ‘home’ for me and where I was born, so a lot of family and friends will come out to the track. I love the wine country, too, which is one of the reasons why I have (the Jeff Gordon Collection Wine).
“And that track has been great to us.”
Gordon leads most performance statistics at the 1.99-mile track. In 19 starts, his five wins are three more than any other driver while he ranks first in poles (five), top-five finishes (12), top-10’s (15) and laps led (437). In fact, Gordon has eight more top-fives than any driver competing in Sunday’s race and he has led 266 more laps than anyone else at the 10-turn track.
“(Sonoma) is very challenging,” said Gordon, who is 13 laps shy of 23,000 laps led during his 20-year career. “To me, it’s a track where you have to be really precise and patient.
“At Watkins Glen, you have to attack really hard and be aggressive. I feel like Sonoma is the exact opposite of that, and I think that suits me a little bit better.”
While the two road courses on different sides of the country are polar opposites, the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion enjoys the change in direction.
“While we haven’t had the same success we once had on road courses, I look forward to those events,” said the runner-up in last year’s event here. “The road courses bring a different set of challenges, and those challenges are fun.
“Challenges that I always look forward to as a driver.”