It is fitting that Jeff Gordon will receive Autoweek’s inaugural McCluggage trophy that honors a lifetime of achievement in motorsports.

Like our beloved friend and colleague, the late Denise McCluggage, the recently retired NASCAR star was a consummate professional on and off the track. Just as Ms. McCluggage was, Gordon is an enlightened world citizen, socially conscious, full of grace, universally respected and enormously talented.

We don’t know if they ever met, but it’s likely. After all, Gordon attended every NASCAR awards banquet for two decades as a champion or a top-10 driver. And McCluggage likely attended at least one of the shindigs in New York or Las Vegas. Or perhaps they chatted at a Chevrolet media event. We know only this: Had they met, they would instantly become friends.

Gordon’s major-league career spanned 23 full seasons. It began in November 1992 near Atlanta in Richard Petty’s last race and ended with great fanfare in November 2015 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In between, he...


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