After a fourteenth place finish at Bristol and a slight disagreement with fellow competitor Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon is ready to move on to the next race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
[media-credit name=”Barry Albert” align=”alignright” width=”275″][/media-credit]Not only will Gordon head for the Hollywood hills to race but the driver of the No. Pepsi Max 24 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motor Sports is also preparing for another important close up, his upcoming role on the big screen.
Gordon announced during the pre-race festivities at ‘The World’s Fastest Half Mile’ that he would be appearing this summer in Pixar’s movie Cars 2. The driver will make his close up as ‘Jeff Gorvette’, an up and coming racer that is “turning hoods wherever he competes”.
The Pixar release states that “Jeff Gorvette is one of the greatest American race cars alive today.” Gordon’s character in Cars 2 closely mirrors his real life, including his animated character hailing from Vallejo, California who travels to Indiana to pursue a racing career, just as Gordon has done.
Another similarity is that Gorvette’s car number in the movie will be the same as Gordon’s car number in real life, the infamous No. 24. In Cars 2, the No. 24 Corvette C6.R will, however, race on tracks in the Grand Touring Sports circuits, competing for the World Grand Prix, while Gordon makes his rounds on the familiar NASCAR tracks on which he has garnered four Cup championships.
Gordon stated that he was most excited about his close up in Cars 2 as he could not wait to take his children, daughter Ella and son Leo, to see the animated feature. He will be talking about his role more fully this week as he is scheduled to appear on The Ellen Degeneres Show on Friday.
Gordon is also preparing for his upcoming close up at Auto Club Speedway. The driver has three wins, ten top-fives, eleven top-10 finishes and two poles at the Fontana, California track.
“It’s big and fast,” Gordon said of Auto Club Speedway. “You got to have the power down the straightaways, you got to have the grip in the corners, same as all the other big tracks.”
“Certainly a track I love, look forward to going to, one we’ve had success at,” Gordon continued. “Especially when I think of this team, I think of Alan and his group, they’ve run well there.”
Gordon has the fifth best driver rating at Fontana, a 99.6. He has an average finish of 10.9, with an average running position of 9.3, the third best at that track.
While Gordon is looking forward to his California close up, he acknowledges that Auto Club Speedway can be a bit challenging.
“When you get to a track like California, it can get tricky,” Gordon said. “There’s a lot of different combinations of setups that you can put underneath the car to make it go faster.”
“You plan ahead,” Gordon continued. “You spend so much time in the off-season trying to create new bump-stops, shock packages, springs, sway bars, you hope the direction you were working in is the right one.”
“We learned a lot about that at Vegas, but we’ll learn even more when we go to California,” Gordon continued. “That’s what I’m most anxious to see, where we stand as well as where our competitors are at.”
“To me, I look forward to going to every racetrack every weekend because it’s kind of like starting over and doing some new things that I look at their past performance and I look at their current performance,” Gordon said. “It’s got me really excited to go to the racetrack and see what we have for the weekend.”
Whether on or off the track, Gordon has already proved the value of his close ups, particularly in the area of brand exposure. According to Joyce Julius & Associates, Gordon has generated more on-screen time for his sponsors during the television coverage of the 2011 season than any other driver to date.
Gordon leads the pack with one hour, 50 minutes, 16 seconds of exposure for his sponsors in the first three Cup races for the season. This totals to approximately $7.6 million of in-broadcast exposure value.
Gordon will no doubt strive to continue his on and off track marketability. His Auto Club Speedway close up is scheduled for this Sunday, March 27th at 3:00 PM ET, where he will compete in the Auto Club 400. And Jeff Gorvette’s Pixar Cars 2 close up will come to the theaters throughout the country later this summer.