By AMANDA VINCENT
Chevrolet announced on Wednesday that NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jeff Gordon will drive the Corvette Z06 pace car for the May 24 running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“It’s great to have Jeff Gordon serve as this year’s pace car driver,” Chevrolet US Vice President of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports said. “He is a true champion who has earned the respect and admiration of competitors and race fans alike. It will be very special to have Jeff lead the Indy 500 field to the green flag behind the wheel of the most powerful and capable production car, ever, from Chevrolet on a day he’ll also be competing in the Coca-Cola 500 NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.”
Later the same day, Gordon will drive his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in the Coca-Cola 600 Sprint Cup Series race, NASCAR’s longest race of the season, at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Gordon is a native Californian but grew up in nearby Pittsboro, Ind.
“Jeff has such a strong connection to the state of Indiana and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and his appearance in the Corvette Z06 pace car reinforces Chevrolet’s important place in the past, present and future of the Indianapolis 500 as well,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Douglas Boles said. “We also look forward to seeing him back here on July 26 to see if he can make it six wins for the Crown Royal 400 at the Brickyard.”
Gordon, a four-time champion of the Sprint Cup Series, is a five-time winner of the Brickyard 400, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race that has been hosted yearly by IMS since 1994. Among those five wins is the inaugural event in 1994 that was the first NASCAR event of any kind at the track. With his five Brickyard wins, Gordon is tied with Michael Schumacher for most wins at the track. Schumacher has five Formula One wins at Indy.
“Indy is hallowed ground for racers like me, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to drive the Corvette Z06 pace car around the track that helped drive my success over the years,” Gordon said. “The Indianapolis 500 is one of the most celebrated races of the year and an event I always dreamed of racing while growing up in California and nearby Pittsboro. I’ve won five NASCAR races at IMS, and the track will always be a special place for me, so to be able to participate in such a historic day will be something I remember for the rest of my life.”
Gordon announced prior to the start of the 2015 season that he would step away from full-time Sprint Cup competition at the end of the year. He joined NASCAR’s top level for the final race of the 1992 season before going full-time on the circuit in 1993.
“Jeff Gordon is a NASCAR legend, an icon of global motorsports and has a special history of success racing at the Brickyard in Indianapolis and the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte,” NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said. “This is a unique honor for him to be recognized in this way by our partners at Chevrolet and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The day certainly will be another special one in the storied history that Jeff already has written at Indianapolis and Charlotte.”