Gordon tries to bid goodbye to Daytona with win

Fri Feb 20, 2015 4:17pm EST
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By Lewis Franck

DAYTONA Beach, Florida (Reuters) - Jeff Gordon will try to make his final Daytona 500 a champagne soaked party but if he is to win the Great American Race for a fourth time he will be chased to Victory Lane by stock car's biggest names.

The front of the grid for Sunday's NASCAR showcase is a who's who of the stock car world packed with former 500 winners and Sprint Cup champions.

Gordon will start from pole but will be surrounded by Hendrick Motorsports team mates with six-time series champion and twice Daytona winner Jimmie Johnson lining up alongside him on Row 1 with defending champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. in his rearview mirror starting from Row 2.

"This year I think all these thoughts of my whole career kind of coming into one moment, one season," said the 43-year old Gordon, who announced earlier this would be his final Daytona 500. "I think if I win anywhere it’s going to be kind of like that this year.

"To do it in the Daytona 500 would be unbelievable, almost surreal for me to even think about it right now.

"On Sunday, when I get up that morning, think about that day, that will come into my mind.”

Gordon will also be thinking about his team mates who will be out spoil his farewell.

For everyone else in the 43 car field getting in front of the powerhouse Hendricks operation at the high-banked 2.5 mile Daytona International Speedway will be a challenge.   Continued...

Feb 20, 2015; Daytona Beach, FL, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jeff Gordon (24) and his crew chief Alan Gustafson during practice for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports