He won’t race Le Mans, but Jeff Gordon wants to make his 2023 debut at another famed track

Jeff Gordon Le Mans
David Jensen/Getty Images

Though he will pass on driving in the 24 Hours of Le Mans as part of NASCAR’s Garage 56 project, Jeff Gordon says his racing days likely will continue.

The four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion is eager to make his debut at Weather Tech Raceway Laguna Seca in the Porsche Deluxe Carrera Cup North America race weekend Sept. 29-Oct. 1. It’s the headlining event of the Porsche Rennsport Reunion VII at the track.

Racing at the famed road course in Monterey, California, has been a dream for Gordon, who grew up a couple of hours north in Vallejo.

“We’re still looking at it,” Gordon said during a Feb. 8 news conference to promote being honored next month by The Amelia 2023 event. “I’ve never raced at that track, and going back home to my home state, it’s a track that’s always been on my radar. I don’t know if we’ll be able to pull it off with the schedule.”

Gordon again would be teamed with fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer Ray Evernham, his crew chief partner for three championships in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Last September, Gordon entered the IMSA-sanctioned Porsche Carrera Cup at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. In a field of 33 Porsche 911 GT3 cars, Gordon made two starts and nearly scored a top 10 (including a final-lap pass “that made my whole weekend” in the second race).

Though he improved over the course of the weekend, the event also was a wake-up call for Gordon, who hadn’t raced competitively since being part of the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona winning team with Wayne Taylor Racing.

“The real realization that I came to when we did the event last year at Indianapolis is that this is not a retired guy’s series,” Gordon, 51, said with a laugh. “These guys take it very serious; they put a lot of effort into it. And when I got on the track the first time and was getting my butt kicked, I realized I had to jump it into another gear and put a whole other level of effort into it, which was not the intent of that event. It was to have fun.

“But we managed to find a way to pick up the speed and have fun by the end of the event. So I just realized you’ve got to go, and you’ve got to test and put a lot of time into the car and the track and everything. So we’ll see if (the Laguna Seca) event ends up happening.”

NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
Jeff Gordon on the red carpet before the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony last month in Charlotte, North Carolina (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).

Gordon’s return to competitive racing came as he mulled joining the lineup for Garage 56, a joint project between Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR, Goodyear and Chevrolet that will put a Next Gen Camaro in the 100th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Though Rick Hendrick had wanted to put Gordon in the seat, the three-driver lineup for Garage 56 was announced last month with seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller and 2009 Formula One champion Jenson Button. Hendrick Motorsports president Jeff Andrews said Gordon was “really good with the decision” given the quality of the lineup.

Hendrick vice president of competition Chad Knaus, who is overseeing Garage 56, said Gordon “wanted to be a part of it if he needed to be a part of it.

“Obviously, Jeff is a tremendous asset to us,” Knaus said last month after the lineup announcement at Daytona International Speedway. “So he’s given a lot of guidance as we’ve spoken to Jimmie and talked to Rocky. But as you line up these guys who are currently active, and Jeff hasn’t been super active, and with the credentials these guys bring, he’s like, ‘Man, I think I know what I need to be doing,’ and that’s what he’s doing is helping guide us through all of this.”

Gordon, who moved into the role of vice chairman and co-owner at Hendrick Motorsports in June 2021, will be at Le Mans this year in an executive capacity after attending last year’s race for the first time.

“It was just spectacular,” he said. “And especially this year, the 100th anniversary to be a part of that with the Garage 56 partnership with NASCAR and Chevrolet and Goodyear and Hendrick. That’s something that’s really, really special, even though I won’t be driving in that event.”

Being on a colorful and exotic grid jam-packed with GTs and prototypes appeals more to Gordon now. He credits the automotive passions of Evernham and Hendrick with turning him into “a car guy” since his 2015 retirement from full-time driving.

“I’m finding this niche and place for myself where I still want to drive the cars and am fascinated by the way cars perform on the track,” he said. “But also the collecting side of the car and building my own collection of cars I admired as a kid or a car I’m admiring today.

“That’s making this job fun for me is I get to be a part of the competition and play a role in the business side of Hendrick Motorsports, but I also get to spread my wings into other areas of the car culture whether it be through General Motors or Hendrick Automotive Group. Or to do projects like Ray and I last year at the IMSA sports car event at Indy and The Amelia.”

Gordon will be the guest of honor March 2-5 at The Golf Club of Amelia Island, Florida, for the 28th annual Amelia Concours D’Elegance (which will present awards to 250 historically significant cars nominated across 32 classes). The Amelia also will feature Evernham, who is helping honor Gordon and also leading a panel on the Corvette at Le Mans.

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon - Season 10
Jeff Gordon during an interview with “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon last month (Todd Owyoung/NBC via Getty Images).

Though he is “winding down” his car collection, Evernham said he has become interested in vintage Ferraris and also cars from IROC (the all-star series where he started as a mechanic 40 years ago). The legendary crew chief also is anxious to work again at the track with Gordon.

“Jeff is very special in my life like a little brother,” Evernham said. “We met in 1990 and had that magic almost immediately.

“I’m waiting for my buddy Jeff to give us a (racing) schedule. I had to learn pretty quickly about this Porsche Carrera Cup racing and some other things he wants to do. We had a great time last year when we did the Indy event, and I’m looking forward to doing a few more fun things with Jeff. We had a little bit of a play day up at (Virginia International Raceway). We’re having fun maintaining (his vintage cars) and being ready to go to the racetrack again with him.”

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
As one of the most successful crew chief-driver pairings in NASCAR history, Jeff Gordon and Ray Evernham combined for three championships and 47 victories in 218 starts in the Cup Series (Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/Tribune News Service via Getty Images).

Eli Tomac wins Seattle Supercross, ties Cooper Webb in championship points


In the past two weeks, Eli Tomac lost his momentum and with it the Monster Energy Supercross red plate to Cooper Webb, but a gutsy performance in Seattle gave him a sixth win of the season as he and the series heads into an off week tied. Tomac is currently tied in the points with Webb.

With this win, Tomac also ties James Stewart for second on the all-time wins list at 50 with six rounds remaining in 2023.

“I needed that bounce back,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Will Christien. “It was almost like I was in a little bit of a slump in the past couple of weeks; just a little bit off. I’m feeling much better now. That track raced really cool. There were a lot of different lines out there.

“It was obviously very dicey early on. I got passed and then had to make those passes back.”

Tomac suffered with a stiff neck in Indianapolis two weeks ago when he lost the red plate to Webb for the first time in 2023. In that race, he scored his worst finish of the season in eighth. He lost more points in Detroit after finishing a distant third behind Chase Sexton and Webb. This is the fifth time this season that Tomac and Webb finished 1-2 in a race. Tomac has won them all, but Webb has been more consistent.

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Seattle

Webb was disappointed to lose the ground to Tomac, but he will enter the Glendale, Arizona race with a red plate and a share of the points’ lead.

“It was overall a great night to get up front and get a second was great,” Webb said after the race. “Those few spots where I would get close to Eli and then make a mistake.

“The track was gnarly. It was no joke. It was cat and mouse as to who could ride the cleanest race and pick the line. I got off to a decent start, but Chase and Eli were ahead of me and I had some catchup to play and got into a good position.”

Early in the race, Sexton was indeed ahead of Webb and the remainder of the field. Another costly mistake sent Sexton to the ground. He battled back to finish fifth but is now 22 points out of the lead and in jeopardy of dropping out of championship contention unless Tomac and Webb have problems.

Rounding out the podium was Justin Barcia, who scored the third-place finish on his birthday

“Awesome ride,” Barcia said. “It was a lot of fun. I’m sure we kept the fans on their feet tonight. The track was gnarly. […] We’re searching; we’re so close to having that speed. We want it so badly. We’ll keep pushing hard and going for that win.”

Sexton’s mistake kept the three top points’ earners of 2023 from sharing the podium for the sixth time in 11 rounds, but the trio finished 1-2-3 in Heat 2 with Webb first, Sexton second and Tomac third.

The 250 West contenders were back in action after giving the last four rounds over to the East riders and Jett Lawrence picked up where he left off in Oakland: In Victory Lane. Lawrence scored his fourth win in five 250 West rounds. Last week his brother Hunter Lawrence tied Jett with 10 wins, but everyone knew it would not take long for Jett to regain the advantage.

Between them, the Lawrence brothers have won all but one race each in their respective divisions.

Lawrence rode a patient race in the Main. He settled in behind Stylez Robertson and concentrated on navigating the ruts mistake-free. He could not afford to be patient any longer when Cameron McAdoo caught up to the leaders. Lawrence found a second gear and gapped the battle for second.

An incident in their main made the battle between Lawrence and McAdoo more dramatic. While racing for second, the pair of riders ran out of room in the rhythm section. Both crashed but had a large enough lead over fourth to maintain their positions.

“It was a very eventful day,” Lawrence told NBC Sports’s Daniel Blair, answering a question about the earlier contact. “[…] It’s good to be back racing. It’s been a while. I feel like I’ve had another offseason. Glad to get out in one piece tonight.”

Lawrence now has a 23-point advantage over the field with four rounds remaining.

Click here for full 250 Main Results

RJ Hampshire finished second in his race and is second in the points after a seesaw affair that produced the final pass for position just before the white flag was displayed.

“I felt like I had a pretty good pace going for a little bit,” Hampshire said. “I closed the gap and then had a couple of big mistakes that almost put me on my head. I backed it off a little bit.

“Cam actually gapped me a little more than I would have wanted. I knew I could get a push there at the end. I thought that was the last lap, which is why my pass was a little more aggressive than it should have been, but I’m stoked to be able to close the gap a little bit.”

McAdoo took the final spot on the podium. This is the fourth time in 2023 these three riders have shared the box and if not for a sixth-place finish in Anaheim 2, he would be mounting a much more formidable challenge for the points’ lead.

“The track was really demanding tonight,” McAdoo said. “It did change a lot and the key thing was to get off the rhythms every time. We were swapping back and forth.”

Enzo Lopes in fourth and Max Vohland rounded out the top five.

Robertson had the early lead but when he lost the top spot to Jett he cross rutted on the next lap, crashed hard and failed to finish.

2023 Race Recaps

Detroit: Chase Sexton inherits win after Aaron Plessinger falls
Indianapolis: Ken Roczen gets first win in more than a year
Daytona: Eli Tomac extends Daytona record with seventh win
Arlington: Cooper Webb wins for second time, closes to two of Tomac
Oakland: Tomac ties Ricky Carmichael with 48 wins
Tampa: Webb gets first 2023 win
Houston: Tomac bounces back from A2 crash to win third race of 2023
Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

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