CONCORD, N.C. -- Wednesday evening, Jeff Gordon was announced as a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2019.
The election came in his first year of eligibility and following a career that made an everlasting impact on the sport.
Gordon's former teammate, Jimmie Johnson, said he was thrilled the four-time Cup Series champion made it in on his first ballot.
"His accomplishments we all know on the track and I guess we all know in this room how he was so integral at a point in time for NASCAR to take us mainstream," Johnson remarked. "And really kind of transcended the sport like maybe only (Dale Earnhardt) Sr. had been able to do or Richard Petty in their eras."
Johnson credits the rivalry between Earnhardt and Gordon as a big factor in the growing popularity of the sport in the 1990s.
"I think the competition and the rivalry that existed between Dale (Earnhardt) Sr. and Jeff (Gordon) was a big ingredient in that. TV, media, nationwide exposure all worked well in Jeff’s timing and his success and his willingness to be out there and his ability to be out there and carry the sport just took him to all new heights."
And Gordon certainly reached high throughout his career, taking the green flag for 805 career starts and claiming 93 victories, 477 top-10 finishes, 325 top-fives.
Johnson reflected back to the very beginning of his own NASCAR Cup Series career, which Gordon helped kick-start.
"To drive for him (Gordon), be selected by him it’s been mind-blowing," Johnson expressed. "I can’t thank him enough for the opportunities that I have had. The way it’s changed my life, racing against him, being friends with him, I’m just truly happy for he and his family and I know it’s going to be a big celebration for those guys.”
Gordon, along with the four other members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2019, will officially be inducted in a ceremony this coming January.