Jeff Gordon knows it will be difficult to match the feeling he gets racing after this season, but broadcasting could provide something close to it.
That was among the reasons Gordon decided to pursue broadcasting, leading to Thursday’s announcement that he’ll join Mike Joy and Darrell Waltrip in the booth for Fox’s broadcast of NASCAR Sprint Cup events.
Gordon has signed a multi-year contract. He replaces Larry McReynolds, who had been in the booth since Fox began broadcasting Cup races in 2001. McReynolds will remain an analyst for the network.
“Jeff is not only a champion but an icon of a racing generation,” said Eric Shanks, Fox Sports President, COO & Executive Producer, in a statement. “We are thrilled he has chosen to become a part of the Fox Sports family and pair his experience with Darrell. Each is credited with helping elevate NASCAR to the popularity it attained in his respective era, and alongside Mike Joy, this duo will treat fans to unmatched insights each and every week.”
Gordon said being in the broadcast booth earlier this year for Xfinity races gave him “an adrenaline rush.
“The competition might be with myself trying to always improve and … doing the best that I can,’’ Gordon said after qualifying 18th for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
But he also wants to have fun, something he doesn’t always do with his current job.
“I take it so … serious that I take a lot of the fun out of it because I focus so much on the competition,’’ Gordon said.
He did three Xfinity broadcasts for Fox and said he felt better with each one.
“I was very nervous the first race at Texas,’’ said Gordon, who also was sick when he did that broadcast. “That one, I was more nervous. The next one was a little more comfortable. In Talladega, I got to enjoy it. I thought the racing was fun to talk about, and I thought the experience was really enjoyable. I was a little more relaxed.’’
Gordon said he had a long conversation with Waltrip recently, talking about next year. Waltrip gave him a hint of what he might experience.
“He said, ‘That first Daytona 500 when I wasn’t getting up to go to a driver’s meeting was really different. Wait until you experience that,’ ‘’ Gordon said Waltrip told him.
“It is going to be different.’’