LOUDON, N.H. – He’s done it.
Jeff Gordon has started more consecutive races than anyone in NASCAR history.
“It’s incredible,” Gordon said. “I remember when Ricky (Rudd) set that record. I was in amazement, like, ‘Wow, how does a guy run that many straight races?’ Certainly the way Ricky did it, he had to overcome a lot of things – the eyelids taped open and everything else. For me, I’ve been fortunate to come along at a time when the sport’s safer and I’ve stayed healthy and I’ve been in amazing race cars to go out there and never miss a race. I’m very proud of that.”
The driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet SS has now started 789 straight races – every single one since his Nov. 15, 1992, debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Taking the green flag at New Hampshire Motor Speedway made the new “Ironman” record official.
“It’s not something that I was really focused on,” Gordon said. “It’s just when I see a group of people that are committed like what we have with the 24 team and how hard they work, it inspires me to give everything that I’ve got back to them. Now maybe I’ve missed a few practices here or there, but knowing that I’ve given them everything that I possibly can on race day and being there for every race is something that I hope that they can appreciate, because I’ve certainly appreciated their efforts.”
There have been close calls, Gordon recalled, including last season at Charlotte, when a sore back threatened to take the driver out of the No. 24 for the first time in his career. But ultimately he has only missed one race in his career, and it came as a teenager.
“I got poison ivy one time pulling some vines off of the house that we had in Indiana, doing some housework, and it went into my blood system and I got extremely allergic and my arm just blew up and I couldn’t bend it to turn the wheel, and I had to miss the race,” he said, estimating that he was 15 or 16 years old. “I’ve never missed a race since.”
Gordon’s sights are squarely set on the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, but he can’t help but appreciate the record as his final full-time Sprint Cup Series season nears its conclusion.
“I’ve been in the sport a long time,” he said. “I’ve been in every single race and that is definitely a stat that I will look back on and be very proud of.”