News & Media

Mustache out, breakdancing in for Jeff Gordon?

September 20, 2012, Joe Menzer,

Without mustache, driver unveils Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles paint scheme

CONCORD, N.C. -- The mustache is out, but breakdancing might just be in for driver Jeff Gordon.

Or at least Gordon hopes so, after promising Charlotte Motor Speedway president Marcus Smith on Thursday that he would breakdance in Victory Lane if he wins the Bank of America 500 at Smith's track on Oct. 13.

"It turns into a nine-race Chase for us now. We might have to win about six of them."


The suddenly clean-shaven Gordon made the promise at an appearance Thursday, where he unveiled a special Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles paint scheme on his No. 24 Chevrolet for the upcoming Chase for the Sprint Cup race at CMS. Gordon had promised to grow a 1990s-era mustache if his team raced its way into the Chase, which he did after that mission was accomplished at Richmond two weeks ago. But he shaved off the new facial growth after a parts failure struck him down during the Chase-opening race at Chicagoland Speedway last Sunday.

Gordon made Thursday's appearance with his wife, model Ingrid Vandebosch, and 2-year-old son Leo -- whose Ninja Turtle namesake Leonardo graces the hood of the car that was unveiled.

"I've got to teach Leo to breakdance. Then we can both do it," said Gordon, smiling. "Listen, a win is huge. As I've already shown, I'm a man of my word. So Marcus put me on the spot, but I can pull off a couple of moves that maybe won't hurt me too bad."

Gordon's championship hopes were hurt mightily when the throttle on his car stuck late in Sunday's race. Running fourth at the time, Gordon slammed into the outside wall and was all but done for the day. By the time repairs were made to his car and he was able to return to the track briefly, less than 10 laps remained and he was doomed to a 35th-place finish that left him 47 points behind Chase leader Brad Keselowski with just nine races left.

"It turns into a nine-race Chase for us now," Gordon said. "We might have to win about six of them."

Gordon said the throttle wasn't stuck wide-open, but more like halfway. Yet that was enough to ruin his afternoon.

"We seem to be the test pilot for Hendrick this year," Gordon said. "It's unfortunate, and that's the way our season has gone this year. Little things that have turned into poor results that have kept us from being further up in points and battling for more wins."

"We know what happened now. With the new [electronic fuel-injection], with the throttle body, it's something that I'm surprised didn't happen sooner with us -- just the way our bracket was mounted on the throttle-spring return. It just broke, whether it was from the vibrations or whatever. It's our mistake. It's something that shouldn't have happened, and it won't happen again."

Gordon said his team is looking for a different way to mount the bracket in question, and also for a different way to configure a cutoff switch that he said he could have triggered with his foot Sunday, but wasn't able to because his toe slipped off it. He also said that he didn't see the problem becoming a company-wide one -- especially now that the other three Hendrick teams in the Chase have been alerted to the possibility of trouble, but mostly because each Hendrick team mounted the bracket differently in the first place.

"Even though some things are consistent [throughout the HMS teams], some things are unique to each driver," Gordon said. "So it was something that was unique to us."

So was the mustache, but now that's gone.

"My whole thing on it was if things went well, if we were running well and finishing up front, I would keep it. But last week didn't go so well, so I changed my mind," Gordon said.

That leaves the new promise made on Thursday.

"I hope I get to keep it," said Gordon, smiling.