Prior to the Cup Series race on Sunday, June 27, Jeff Gordon met with media members at Pocono Raceway to discuss his upcoming full-time move to Hendrick Motorsports. The NASCAR Hall of Famer surprised some by revealing that he knew entering the 2021 season that it would be his last with Fox Sports.
Gordon provided the insight during a 30-minute media session next to the HMS hauler. He explained that he will miss working with the Fox Sports crew, especially Mike Joy and Clint Bowyer. However, Gordon said that potentially missing his coworkers did not convince him to delay his move to HMS.
“Working with DW [Darrell Waltrip], working with Mike, working with Larry [McReynolds], pit reporters. But this year, especially, working with Bowyer. He and I had a great rapport going into it, and I knew we would have fun,” Gordon told media members, per Jayski’s Dustin Albino.
“That made it a tougher decision. I really felt that the decision was already made going into the season, so I don’t think anything was going to change that.” The Hall of Famer added that working in the booth served as a great way for him to transition out of the stock car and into the next portion of his life. Now, however, Gordon will make another move and focus on the competition side of NASCAR once again, albeit in a different way.
Gordon Joins Hendrick Motorsports Amid a Historic Season
While the former HMS driver won’t officially assume his duties as vice-chairman until Jan. 1, 2022, he will have the opportunity to spend time with the four-car stable amid a historic season and provide feedback. The Hendrick Motorsports drivers have combined for nine wins and four spots in the playoffs. They also helped the organization break the all-time record for wins.
Gordon has spent some time with key figures at HMS in the days since making the announcement. He met with Alex Bowman’s crew chief Greg Ives and provided some insight using his unique perspective as a former driver-turned-broadcaster.
“Jeff is super helpful. He gets it from an organizational side, he gets it from a race car driver side. That’s been really cool,” Bowman told media members following the first Pocono race, per the Associated Press. “[…] When I first started driving the 88 and kind of sharing it with him, I didn’t really know Jeff.
“That probably out of everybody at Hendrick Motorsports, just with him having to wear so many different hats, having so much going on, like that relationship probably took the longest to build. But it’s really cool to get to lean on somebody with so much knowledge in so many different areas and have his help and advice.”
Gordon’s TV Experience Provides Crucial Insight Into His New Role
The move to Fox Sports from the driver’s seat of the No. 24 Chevrolet provided Gordon with the opportunity to embrace the next portion of his life, but it also provided some crucial insight. Gordon saw how certain aspects of the business play a key role in developing partnerships and growing the fanbase.
“That’s one of my goals is to really connect with our TV partners and make sure that our drivers and crew chiefs recognize that their personality, their performance, the show on the race track, that it means way more than you think,” Gordon said during the Pocono media availability, per Jayski. “As a competitor, you get very narrowly focused on the competition. And this sport wouldn’t have the fans and wouldn’t be as big as it is if millions of people weren’t watching it on TV.
“And they want to see rivalries, right? They want to see personalities and frustrations and excitement. I think that my perspective, coming from the last six years doing TV, it is definitely going to be present at Hendrick Motorsports and how we move forward. And I think our guys do a great job with that, but there’s no doubt we can do more.”
The personalities of the drivers and how they respond to adversity have created conversations over the past year. Chase Elliott, Bowman, William Byron, and Kyle Larson have all spent time under the proverbial microscope due to how they reacted to massive wins and surprising losses.
Dale Earhardt Jr. actually addressed this topic prior to the Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway. He mentioned that analysts have been hard on Elliott, in particular, due to his moods after races. Earnhardt explained that the driver of the No. 9 is still young and that he will continue to “figure it out” as he matures.