By: Pete Pistone – @PPistone | MRN.com on January 30, 2017 | 6:30 A.M. EST
“It’s a very elite group that’s won the Daytona 500 and the Rolex 24 together. That’s something I’m very, very proud of.” (Photo: Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon added a Rolex 24 win to his impressive résumé.
The four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion was part of the winning Wayne Taylor Racing team victory in the 2017 edition of the twice around the clock sports car classic at Daytona International Speedway.
Gordon became the fourth driver to win both the Rolex 24 and the Daytona 500. The three-time (1997, ’99, 2005) Daytona 500 champion, joins Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt and Jamie McMurray in that special foursome
Gordon, also a four-time champion of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, is the first champion of NASCAR’s premier series to win the Rolex 24.
“This is unbelievable! I haven’t been this emotional for a win and an experience like this for a very long time,” Gordon said Sunday in Daytona’s Victory Lane.
“The reason is because I know what this means to this team, Wayne [Taylor], these kids [Ricky and Jordan] – Max. Oh my gosh! This is amazing! Daytona has always been special, but this one sent me over the top. I’m just blown away right now. When he told me about the Cadillac program, I was amazed. It is an amazing beautiful car with a lot of technology. To win in that car in a race like this is amazing.”
Gordon has experienced the Rolex before. His first and only other career sports car race came at this very race in 2007 with this very team, when he co-drove with Wayne Taylor, Angelelli and Jan Magnussen to a third-place finish
But this weekend’s effort was much more satisfying, especially in light of the fact he was much more intensely engaged in the team’s preparation effort.
“This is very surreal to me, this whole experience and moment, to have this on my résumé,” Gordon said. “It’s a very elite group that’s won the Daytona 500 and the Rolex 24 together. That’s something I’m very, very proud of. But I think more than anything is this experience for me of – not to take anything away from 2007 with Max and Jan and Wayne –what amazing racecar drivers both Ricky and Jordan are and how difficult this race is. You know, this experience to me was about building this bond and this friendship that I didn’t expect to happen because of the way they welcomed me in, and we had a lot of fun along the way.
“They answered all my questions because I had a lot of them, and they helped me adapt, and that’s what helped us as a group, I think, to go out there and win. And then I was able to learn just how talented they are. I mean, I was so impressed while watching all night. I was glued to the TV every second, every lap. I couldn’t sleep because I wanted to watch these guys do what they did in the rain, in the cold, in the most treacherous conditions, and they did it at a level, that I’ll be honest, I’m not capable of doing, and I was so impressed. Then you go to the last stint of a 24 hour race and you see it come down to that, and it was a thrill of a lifetime, and I’m just so honored to be sitting here and be a part of this experience.”