Gordon Returns to Knoxville Raceway

Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon had the chance to wave the green and checkered flag during one of the races on Wednesday night. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)


KNOXVILLE, Iowa - Wednesday night was a special night for Jeff Gordon.

Three days after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway, Gordon returned to his motor sports roots by making a trip to Knoxville Raceway to watch the Silva Motorsports/Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation/Kick-It sprint car in the 52nd Goodyear Knoxville Nationals opener, and also to see his new exhibit in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame.

Gordon partnered with Silva and driver Shane Stewart, the 2011 National 360 Sprint Car Driver of the Year, to help promote the Kick-It Program - which is a grassroots fundraising movement for pediatric cancer research.

Jeff Gordon"It's such a thrill, not just to be here but to be a part of it with our Kick-It Program," Gordon told MRN in the Knoxville pits. "What we're doing with this program through the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation is getting grassroots interaction with local communities that can put a kickball tournament together. It's a great way to raise money for pediatric cancer research."

Along with Gordon, Stewart also went to Victory Lane last weekend when he claimed his fourth 360 Nationals win at Knoxville Raceway.

"I was on the internet all weekend watching the race and cheering for him from Pocono," Gordon said. "I stayed up way too late the night before the Pocono race and thankfully, things worked out on Sunday."

Before heading to the infield pits to watch Stewart race his way from 23rd to seventh in the A-Feature, Gordon turned back the clock by checking out six of his old racecars at the Hall of Fame. One of the machines on display is his No. 6 winged sprint car that he won a number of track championships with in 1988.

Jeff Gordon"It means so much to me," Gordon said about the exhibit that runs through Dec. 31. "After growing up watching sprint car and open-wheel racing, it was a dream come true for me to get a chance to drive a sprint car - especially here at Knoxville. They went over and above any potential expectations you could have. It was amazing. It sent chills up my spine going over there ... the old video, I haven't seen some of that video in a long time."

Gordon raced in the Knoxville Nationals in 1989 and finished 23rd driving the No. 23 for McBride and Shoff Motorsports.

"I didn't do a lot of racing here at Knoxville, but the times I did run here I'll never forget," Gordon said. "I did make the Knoxville Nationals one year and that's my Knoxville claim to fame. I had a great time racing sprint cars. I was good, but I knew I wasn't going to be great so I'm really glad the opportunity came along to go do the (ESPN) Thursday Night Thunder and also do more pavement racing to get me down South to race NASCAR."

After Knoxville, the Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation/Kick-It sponsorship will be back on track in the Skagit Dirt Cup in Seattle, Wash. (Aug. 30), the Skagit World of Outlaws race on Aug. 31, and the Gold Cup in Chico, Calif. on Sept. 6-8.

"I'm excited," Gordon said. "Those guys put us over the top with the amount of exposure we got last weekend and we already have a great qualifying effort (for the Nationals).

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