Switching roles for this weekend’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, Jeff Gordon came out of “retirement” to test his iRacing skills, competing at the virtual Talladega Superspeedway.
Making his return in the No. 24 Axalta/Pepsi Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, the same paint scheme he won with at Talladega Superspeedway in 2004, Gordon qualified 29th for Sunday’s event.
Early on, Gordon raced his way to just outside the top five when he was collected in an incident that forced him to use his only “fast repair.”
Keeping his nose clean until the final 19 laps, a pit road penalty under green-flag pit stops halted Gordon’s progress before he ultimately was collected in another on-track incident, leaving him with a 38th-place finish in Sunday’s race.
Making his Pro Invitational Series debut at virtual Talladega Superspeedway, Gordon qualified 29th but quickly connected with Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott once the green flag dropped and the two began working their way through the field.
Methodically making passes, Gordon was up to the sixth position on Lap 16 when the lead car in his lane wrecked, collecting Gordon in the incident.
Coming to pit road under the caution, Gordon utilized his only “fast repair,” with his No. 24 Axalta/Pepsi Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE rejoining the field in the 32nd position.
Changing his strategy to avoid any further incidents in the ensuing laps, Gordon maintained a position within the top 20 as the race went through a long green-flag run.
With 20 laps to go, varying pit strategy began to play out, moving Gordon up to the 22nd-position before he came to pit road under green on Lap 52.
However, a pit road penalty caught Gordon a lap down under the pit stop sequence.
While trying to make up ground in the closing laps, Gordon was collected in a on-track incident on Lap 57, leaving him with heavy damage to his No. 24 Chevy.
Coming down pit road for lengthy repairs, Gordon rejoined the field in the closing laps, crossing the finish line in the 38th-position, nine laps down.
“That was so much fun – especially drafting with Chase at the beginning of the race through the pack up and getting up to sixth,” said the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion. “It’s amazing how close iRacing is to real racing at Talladega. I sure would have liked to been up front battling for the win at the end, though.”
As a part of his return to racing today, Gordon pledged to donate $24 for every lap he completed at the virtual Talladega Superspeedway.
Fans also had the opportunity to join Gordon on that pledge by supporting one of the 70 laps run today for $24 at www.jeffgordonchildrensfoundation.org/iracing/.
All proceeds went to the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation (JGCF) with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting kids fighting childhood cancer.