Thursday, June 18, 2009

Driver # 1 - Jeff Gordon - American - Age 37 - Chances of Joining the ICS = 0.01%

IndyCar Garage breaks down ten drivers that aren’t driving in the IndyCar Series and what their impact would have done or could do to the IndyCar series.

IndyCar Garage concludes it’s countdown of the top ten drivers not currently driving full-time in the IndyCar Series with the number one driver:
1. JEFF GORDON - AMERICAN – AGE 37 – Chances of Joining the ICS = 0.01%

May 26th 1990 – On this day Jeff Gordon had just won his second “Night before the 500” at Anderson Motor Speedway, in Anderson Indiana at the age of 19. Gordon would go on to win the USAC National Midget title later that year. This is also the time period that the IndyCar Series, then CART, lost one of its best opportunities to secure a rising star in open wheel racing. The following day on May 27th 1990, the 74th running of the Indianapolis 500 took place. A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Bobby Rahal, Rick Mears, Al Unser, Al Unser Jr, Arie Luyendyk all participated in that race and IndyCar was in its prime. What happened in the next year is what many within the IndyCar Series considered one of the biggest mistakes ever to happen to their sport.

Jeff Gordon was not offered any rides in the Indy Lights series or the current CART series. At the same time this was taking place, young 29 year old Tony George was being named president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Gordon, with no opportunities to join open wheel, joined the Busch Series in 1991 and the rest is history. Gordon became NASCAR Rookie of the Year in 1993 and NASCAR now had a young American rising star to develop their fan base around, not to mention a huge rival to Dale Earnhardt. What is even more ironic is that in the inaugural Brickyard 400, Gordon captured his second career NASCAR win at his home track.

One of the underlining factors in Tony George creating the Indy Racing League is Jeff Gordon himself. There is no reason Jeff Gordon shouldn’t have at least had the opportunity to run IndyCars. His presence in NASCAR has done wonders for their series and spring boarded them past Indy Cars in the mid 90s. To this day, Jeff Gordon has never raced in an IndyCar. He was quoted this past May as saying that no matter how many races he wins at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it won’t compare to what A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears have accomplished as four time winners.

The biggest “WHAT IF” question in IndyCars is Jeff Gordon. His chances for joining an IndyCar Series today are slim to none, NASCAR would have to hit rock bottom and chances are Gordon would be too old by that point. The Jeff Gordon story forever changed the landscape of IndyCar racing. Good Job CART (interest bitterness here)

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