He was whisked away as soon as the morning press conference had ended, one obligation on a daily planner filled with commitments completed, and another one waiting.
He may now be Jeff Gordon, NASCAR analyst for FOX Sports, but he's still, well, Jeff Gordon.
The four-time Sprint Cup Series champion, winner of 93 races and, as recently as three months ago, a championship contender, drives no more. But he remains driven. And busy.
The story that he was up and ready to hit the garage and begin his FOX rounds here at Daytona International Speedway recently, only to discover that the garage wouldn't open for several hours, is true.
Gordon, 44, is more than ready for this next chapter in life.
Sunday's Daytona 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR), the season-opening event for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, will be his first major test. He got his first taste of working with the FOX Sports NASCAR crew, which includes Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds, during last week's Sprint Cup practice sessions, the non-points Sprint Unlimited on Saturday night and Sunday's Coors Light Pole qualifying program.
"This is where the magic happens, up here," he said at the time. "I'm finding that out."
Adding Gordon to the broadcast team was a no-brainer, according to McReynolds, the former crew chief. Along with Joy and Waltrip, the three have been the framework for the broadcast team since FOX signed on with NASCAR back in 2001.
"I never really got to know Jeff that well throughout the years of racing against him and talking about him, but getting to know him over the last few months it absolutely makes sense why he’s been as successful as he is," McReynolds said Thursday. "He's latched on to the FOX philosophy real quickly, and that's that we tell the story, we explain why but more importantly have fun. … The philosophy for the three of us the last 15 years is we're like three guys sitting on a couch, watching a race, having fun and talking about it. Now we've added another member to our couch. It's almost been seamless."
Joy gave Gordon high marks for his enthusiasm, his effort and preparation. "We want his knowledge and enthusiasm," he said. "The short answer is we're getting a lot more than we bargained for."
Waltrip said Gordon's enthusiasm "is contagious."
"I thought I was jacked up; I thought I came down here … vibrating out of my shoes until I ran into him," Waltrip, himself a three-time champion and member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, said. "His focus and how he looks at things … he asks a lot of questions, which is great. Sometimes he asks a question and I say 'I can’t believe you don't know that.' But then I remember he's a rookie, he doesn't know that.
"It's been a real good awakening for me; I think I'm going to gain as much from this as he is. Standing beside him and what he sees and what he says really helps me think about things in a different perspective. … I think we're only going to get better."
Gordon had years to...
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