CONCORD, N.C. – When Ray Evernham was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame last January, Jeff Gordon was impressed by his former crew chief’s ability to get through a heartfelt speech without getting too overcome with emotions.
Afterward, the four-time champion driver joked that he wasn’t even ready to think about the possibility of giving his own speech were he to make the Hall of Fame.
Fast forward a year, Gordon is on the verge of his own induction ceremony as a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame class of 2019.
And his speech is once again on his mind.
“I absolutely have stressed out about it,” he laughed. “Because there’s just been so many key moments that led to the next step or the next part of the journey. A lot of people that I want to thank and a lot of things that I want to say.”
Back in 2015, Gordon stepped on stage to deliver a speech at the Cup Series awards banquet following his final full-time Cup season. It was already a tough task to make it through the speech without getting too choked up – and that was before Tom Cruise had surprised him with a touching introduction.
Now, while he might be anxious about making another emotional speech during Friday’s induction ceremony, he’s eager to be able to reflect on what the sport of NASCAR – and all the people he’s worked with along the way – has meant to him.
“We all know I can be an emotional guy when it comes to things like that,” he smiled. “So, I’m excited on one hand and stressed out about it at the same time.
“I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a fun evening.”