Monster salute: Dover to honor NASCAR legend Gordon with marquee plaque

Jeff Gordon

DOVER — The small state of Delaware has been indelibly linked to Jeff Gordon ever since he burst onto the NASCAR scene in a huge way back in 1993.

After all, the headquarters for DuPont — the primary sponsor on the hood and side panels of his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for more than 20 years — sits just up the road in Wilmington, less than an hour away from the high banks of Dover International Speedway.

Not only that, but Gordon also drove to remarkable success at Dover throughout his career, winning five times on the racetrack nicknamed the “Monster Mile” because of its penchant for wearing both drivers and their race cars out.

It is because of that sustained success that officials from Dover International Speedway have decided to honor Gordon — a four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion — with a marquee plaque at the Monster Monument at Victory Plaza.

Gordon will become the fourth driver honored with a Monster Monument marquee plaque, joining NASCAR legends Bobby Allison, David Pearson and Richard Petty.

“Jeff provided millions of NASCAR fans, both at Dover and across the country, with plenty of thrills and excitement during his incredible career,” said Mike Tatoian, president and CEO of Dover International Speedway. “Only the best drivers in the sport have their names on the Monster Monument, and only the best of the best receive the honor of a marquee plaque.

“Jeff has certainly earned his place among that accomplished group.”

The marquee plaque unveiling is scheduled for Saturday, May 5, at 10:15 a.m. and will include remarks from Gordon, Tatoian, Dover Motorsports Inc. CEO Denis McGlynn and Milford native Mike Bagley, the host of Sirius XM’s “The Morning Drive” and an announcer for the Motor Racing Network who will host the ceremony.

All fans are welcome to attend the event.

Gordon, whose five wins at Dover are tied for fourth with Pearson on the track’s all-time list, behind Jimmie Johnson (11), Petty (7) and Allison (7), admits the track has meant a lot to him throughout his career.

“I’ve always enjoyed Dover,” Gordon said. “Especially with these presentations, it does remind me of how much Dover and the state of Delaware has meant for me personally and for our team.

“Coming here to Wilmington every single year and visiting with all the employees at DuPont. … it’s always special coming here. You always want to have success in your sponsor’s home and backyard. And we did that from the beginning. It always made coming here that much more special.”

Gordon retired from driving following the 2015 season and now serves as an analyst with Fox Sports. He will be in the TV booth to help call the AAA 400 Drive for Autism Monster Energy Cup Series race at Dover on Sunday, May 6.

The NASCAR tripleheader weekend at Dover also includes the OneMain Financial 200 Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash race on Saturday, May 5, and the JEGS 200 Camping World Truck Series race on Friday, May 4.

Gordon is no stranger to special events at Dover International Speedway.

In fact, the track presented him with 90 miniature Monster trophies to take back to all the members of his race team during his final visit to the track as a driver in the fall of 2015.

Gordon, 46, also sat behind the wheel of the pavement grinder when Dover switched to concrete in 1994 and was on hand for the dedication of the Monster Monument.

Gordon certainly left his mark on NASCAR — the biggest one was when he challenged the legendary Dale Earnhardt Sr. for the role of top dog in NASCAR throughout the 1990s.

Gordon was always a well-spoken, clean cut, Madison Avenue-type, while Earnhardt was a robust North Carolina native with a devil-may-care attitude and a blue-collar hero.

“Our sport owes a lot to Jeff,” McGlynn said, when Gordon stepped away from NASCAR in 2015. “He created an enormous amount of energy and attention when he arrived on the NASCAR scene in the early 90’s.

“His rivalry with Dale Earnhardt Sr. filled grandstand seats, drove TV ratings and elevated NASCAR’s relevancy in the sports world. He was, and is, a great champion and he’s earned every bit of the respect he enjoys today.

“We still consider him our hometown favorite. He created a lot of fans for us and we’re happy he’ll continue to be part of our sport in the years ahead.”

Dover’s International Speedway’s two 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race dates set for Sunday, May 5 and Sunday, Oct. 6

DOVER – Dover International Speedway’s two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race dates in 2019 will be Sunday, May 5 and Sunday, Oct. 6, NASCAR officials announced on Tuesday.

2019 will mark the Monster Mile’s 50th anniversary season, dating to the first NASCAR event here on July 6, 1969, won by Richard Petty. The Sunday, Oct. 6 NASCAR Cup Series race will also be the 100th NASCAR Cup Series event at Dover.

More details on the Monster Mile’s milestone celebrations will be shared as the 2019 season approaches.

Dover International Speedway’s first 2018 NASCAR tripleheader weekend, on May 4-6, is just one month away. The weekend features the “AAA 400 Drive for Autism” Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday, May 6, the “OneMain Financial 200” NASCAR Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash race on Saturday, May 5 and the “JEGS 200” NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday, May 4.

The Monster Mile’s second NASCAR tripleheader weekend is scheduled for Oct. 5-7. It includes the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff race on Sunday, Oct. 7, the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoff race on Saturday, Oct. 6 and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race on Friday, Oct. 5.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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