Jeff Gordon, in his final season before retirement, has received gifts ranging from 96 bottles of bourbon from Kentucky Speedway to a customized blackjack table from Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
But the iconic driver didn’t know what to expect from Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage, who is known for coming up with outlandish promotions.
Gossage didn’t disappoint Friday, giving Gordon two Shetland ponies for his children, Ella and Leo.
“Are you out of your mind? Are you out of your mind?” Gordon said in disbelief. “Oh my God. Eddie … you have no idea what you just did to me.”
Replied Gossage: “Yes I do.”
“You have lost it,” said Gordon, who also received custom boots and a TMS street sign. “Oh, my God. Eddie you are unbelievable. … I am mad at you but at the same time I’m overwhelmed because my kids are going to flip out.”
Gossage explained the parting gift afterward, saying he had to do something with a Texas-type feel to it. He considered getting Gordon a horse or a longhorn, but ultimately settled on ponies for his children.
Asked if he researched whether Gordon had the land for the ponies, Gossage smiled and said: “Not my problem. If he needs land, he can buy some land.”
While the pony parting gift appeared to get a lukewarm response from Gordon, there is no question that TMS appreciated what Gordon has brought to the sport.
He was on hand during the ground-breaking ceremony in 1995, and has raced in every Cup event dating to the inaugural race in 1997. Gordon earned his first — and only — win at Texas in the spring of 2009.
Gordon would love to win for a second time at Texas, but is more focused on having a solid race. He clinched a spot in the championship round with a victory Sunday at Martinsville, and is now focused on using Texas to get his team’s 1.5-mile package ready for the Nov. 22 championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“We want to win. We want to keep the momentum going all the way into Homestead,” said Gordon, who qualified 18th on Friday night. “We also need to build up our confidence on the mile-and-a-half, so we can have the confidence we need at Homestead that not only we are a strong team, but we are a team that has a car that is performing on the level we need to contend for the win there.”
Keselowski on pole
Brad Keselowski won the pole for the first time at Texas on Friday night, and will try to parlay that into his first Cup win at the track during Sunday’s AAA Texas 500.
Keselowski had a strong showing with a top speed of 196.929 mph, and is in position to win his way into the championship round. After a 32nd-place finish last Sunday at Martinsville, Keselowski is essentially in a win-or-go-home situation these next two weeks.
“If you’re not in the top five right now, you are in a must-win situation,” Keselowski said. “Thankfully we started out in the right situation with being fast.”
Fellow Chase contender Kevin Harvick will be alongside Keselowski. Harvick had a qualifying speed of 195.993 followed by fellow Chasers Kyle Busch (195.716) and Joey Logano (195.419).
Of the remaining Chase drivers, Kurt Busch will start seventh and Carl Edwards will start 13th. Gordon, meanwhile, will start 18th in his final race at Texas. Martin Truex Jr. had the worst qualifying run of any of the eight drivers remaining in the Chase, and will start 23rd.