COMING BACK IS HARD –
ASK JEFF GORDON
When Jeff Gordon hung up his helmet at the
end of 2015, no one – including Gordon himself –
expected the four-time champion to get behind
the wheel of a race car again in NASCAR’s premier
series. But when Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Gordon’s
Hendrick Motorsports teammate from 2008-
2015 – was abruptly sidelined this season with
concussion-like symptoms, team owner Rick
Hendrick needed a quick replacement for NASCAR’s
most popular driver in the No. 88 Chevrolet.
His first choice was Gordon, who honored
the wishes of his former boss by coming out of
retirement to sub for Earnhardt in eight races. But
despite being unarguably one of the best drivers
in the history of the sport, Gordon admittedly
struggled to get a good feel for the No. 88 after
some eight months out of a race car. It didn’t help,
of course, that Hendrick Motorsports as a whole
was struggling a bit at the time of Gordon’s return.
Further complicating matters was that Gordon had
never competed with the new low-downforce aerodynamic package implemented for the 2016 season.
16 LESSONS LEARNED