Jeff Gordon is in the catbird seat once again. He’s currently seventh in points, he’s a lock to make the Chase with two wins, he gets more airtime than most drivers and this weekend he’ll be racing at a track where he has three wins and 14 top-five finishes. For the next eight races Jeff Gordon’s in cruise control, taking it easy, enjoying the ride and planning his August birthday.
Here are five changes people can expect to see in the new, more relaxed Jeff Gordon.
1. Not worried about "making good time" on drive up to New Hampshire
Members of the crew have cheered the relaxing of Jeff Gordon’s notorious “one five-minute bathroom stop every hour” rule when the team is on the road. Jeff’s obsession with “making good time” has given way to a more accommodating road trip bathroom policy.
To the surprise of everyone in the hauler, Jeff actually wanted to stop at a scenic overlook in Virginia for a team photo in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Typically that a bathroom stop request would have been with an icy stare and a lecture from Gordon that he drives for four hours every Sunday with no breaks.
2. Informal Jeff
Jeff Gordon has relaxed his policy of insisting everyone refer to him to "NASCAR Champion, Jeff Gordon". Crew chief Gustafson, mechanics and support staff can now simply call him "Jeff, the NASCAR Champion." He wants the team to feel more comfortable around him. Some folks say Gordon has even unbuttoned the top button on his shirts, but that rumor is unconfirmed.
3. Building a “ Mega-Trophy” out of all his little trophies
Presidents dedicate libraries to themselves, sports leagues build Halls of Fame, pharaohs built pyramids, but what is Jeff Gordon to do? The answer is fuse all of his trophies into one “Mega Trophy.” The colossal trophy, which measures over three hundred feet tall, joins the Great Wall of China as the only two man-made objects that can be seen from space. When the sun hits the shiny part, the glare has been known to blind flocks of birds and low-flying aircraft. Gordon even found a place for his live rattlesnake trophy from the Phoenix Raceway.
4. Updated Uniform: Black Socks and Sandals
Jeff Gordon leaves his motorhome on race days in his customary firesuit, helmet and a new addition: black socks and sandals. As a father, Gordon’s wardrobe has slowly evolved from Hugo Boss to black socks, sandals and wearing white undershirts as a regular shirt. As Gordon proudly strides through the garage area he answers every confused stare and blank look by gesturing to his feet with a boisterous “These dogs are barking!”
5. Ends every radio call with “Take it easy, Keep it sleazy”
Cruise control mode means that Jeff like to get loose with the radio chatter. He treats crew chief Alan Gustafson like a night club audience, peppering pit stop strategy conversations with observation humor. “The jokes aren’t funny,” says Gustafson, “But what are you going to do? He’s NASCAR Champion, Jeff Gordon.”