NASCAR Driver Jeff Gordon Featured on New Sports Illustrated Cover

The new issue of Sports Illustrated this week features NASCAR Driver Jeff Gordon on the national cover with the cover line, “The Last Ride of Jeff Gordon.” Gordon, 44, will race against Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway in pursuit of his fifth NASCAR championship. Win or lose, Gordon will retire after the race to cap more than 20 years of professional competition.

In this week’s cover story, SI Editor Mark Bechtel looks back at the highlights of Gordon’s career and speaks to his friends and mentors including NASCAR Driver, Jimmie Johnson, Kelly Ripa, Gordon’s Crew Chief Ray Evernham and more to talk about his famous victories and stories throughout the years. Bechtel shows readers everything from his accomplishments on the track to his complicated relationship with his dad and his sudden transformation years ago from a devout Christian to something more Hollywood.

Johnson tells SI how his friendship with Gordon took them both by surprise: “The guy I met in a few meetings, the stories in the shop about how to approach him, how to handle him, the dos and do nots—they were so different from when I went to my first test session [at Las Vegas Motor Speedway] with him…we went to Vegas three days early, and on the flight out I quickly realized we weren’t going to go sightseeing.”

In an interview with SI, Gordon goes down memory lane to when he was often seen as ‘too vanilla’: “Early on in my career I focused on trying to say the right things, making sure my sponsors and fans were pleased and my team owner was not upset with me…I never wanted to rock the apple cart. As you gain more knowledge and experience and comfort and maturity, you let go of some of that and let your personality come out.”

Gordon became a regular fill-in for Regis Philbin on Live with Regis and Kelly and Kelly Ripa tells SI about Gordon’s personality: “He’s a guy’s guy, but he’s also a guy who’s in tune with women..he’s a genuine guy. He’s not a phony-baloney.”

Gordon reveals to Bechtel about his thoughts on the legacy he is leaving behind: “I don’t feel like it’s for me to decide..I put everything I can into my driving and into the team and into life, and I’m proud of that. That’s my personal legacy, knowing how much I’ve put into it and how it’s paid off.”

This week’s regional cover of SI features St. Louis rookie running back Todd Gurley in which SI Senior Writer Greg Bishop speaks to Gurley and his friends and family, including Adrian Peterson, Hershel Walker, Hall of Fame QB Warren Moon, Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis and more about preconceived perceptions of Gurley, his ACL recovery process, his dominance on the field and more.

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