CONCORD, N.C. -- Ray Evernham knows Jeff Gordon.
And even after the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet SS announced that 2015 will bring the final Sprint Cup Series season of his career, Evernham knew Gordon wouldn't be taking anything lightly.
“He’s super competitive,” Evernham said. “He said he wants to win races, he wants to win this championship, and I don’t doubt for one second that this is not going to be a retirement tour for him.”
Evernham won three Cup championships as crew chief for Gordon and the two have remained friends ever since.
“Jeff and I have been more than crew chief and driver; we have a relationship like family,” he said. “So I’m happy and a little bit sad, selfishly, because watching Jeff Gordon on a racetrack racing a car is something I enjoy.”
As soon as Gordon’s announcement was made, words and pictures reminiscing about memories of Gordon on and off the track took over social media.
Even a few of his competitors heaped praise on Gordon and his legacy.
Evernham compared Gordon to any great legendary sports figure and he thinks his competitors feel that way, also.
“In one way they hated racing against Jeff Gordon because they couldn’t beat him, but in another way racing against him made them better,” Evernham said. “And I think his competitors are going to miss not having him on the track, too.”
NASCAR has transformed since the early days of Gordon’s racing career. And Evernham believes Gordon has played a huge role in that change.
“He brought polish, media, that sponsorship, and he brought a different level,” Evernham said. “He helped grow NASCAR out past a south regional sport into the national spotlight.”
And with one more full-time season to add to his impressive resume, Gordon’s place in history, Evernham said, is cemented.
“He will be remembered as one of the greats, for sure,” he said. “There is no doubt that he will be remembered as one of the greats.”