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Gordon To Receive Award That Will Never Tarnish

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, August 3 2012

Jeff Gordon will become a multi-sport hero later this year. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer

LONG POND, Pa. – Jeff Gordon will be presented the Heisman Humanitarian award at the The Heisman Memorial Trophy Dinner in New York in December.

The announcement was made at Pocono Raceway on Friday as the four-time Sprint Cup champion was flanked by past Heisman winners Tim Brown of Notre Dame and former South Carolina running back George Rogers.

“Those trophies are nice, but they do tarnish,” said Gordon, widely-recognized as one of the most generous drivers in the NASCAR garage. “But when you save a child’s life and you have something as meaningful as this (award), it lasts a lifetime.”

Gordon joins Olympic speed skating gold medalist Joey Cheek, former New York Giants defensive end George Martin, former NHL star Pat LaFontaine, soccer great Mia Hamm, former NFL running back Warrick Dunn and former New York Jets defensive tackle Marty Lyons as recipients of the award.

“I am happy to hear it and think he is extremely deserving,” said Gordon’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jimmie Johnson. “Fund raising and charitable work is only as successful as the name behind it.”

A.J. Allmendinger was released earlier this week from Penske Racing following a failed drug test. Jeff Gordon said he would have no problem racing against the suspended driver if he’s able to complete NASCAR’s Road to Recovery program and attempts to make a comeback in the stock car racing circuit.

“A.J. is a friend of mine and I’ve always been a fan of his since the open wheel runs,” Gordon said. “You hate to see it because it was a great opportunity for him to race for Penske.

“But he’s a fighter. I don’t see him just turning away. I’m seeing him doing what he can to come back.”

A whopping 22 pit road speeding penalties were dished out to Sprint Cup competitors during the Pocono 400 here in June.

Included on the hit list was five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, who was tagged for speeding twice.

Johnson pinpointed the final scoring loop on Pocono’s pit road as the likely culprit earlier this year. He intends to be extra-cautious when exiting pit road on Sunday.

“I’ll definitely be aware of that final segment leaving,” he said. “I didn’t feel like I was impatient there last time. I’ll be more patient. With so many people having trouble there, I’m sure it was a small segment. We’ll be patient.”

Pocono Raceway is rumored as a possible site to host an IndyCar race in 2013. When asked about the type of show the freshly-paved track could produce, 2000 Indianapolis 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya offered a thumbs up.

“Since the repave, I think it would be a cool place to race Indy Cars,” Montoya said. “With the old track, it would have been crazy with how bumpy it was.

“But I think with the smooth surface the way it is, I think it could bring the best racing of any place they go to. The straights are long. I think it could bring really good drafting and be a different type of race.”

Pocono Raceway President Brandon Igdalsky announced last week that he’ll write a $100,000 check to a lucky fan if Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins Sunday’s 400 at the Tricky Triangle.

“I really don’t know much about it other than the guy at the race track is going to pay somebody some money if we win,” Earnhardt said Friday morning. “That’ll be good for whoever gets and money and we’ll be enjoying the trophy in victory lane. Everybody wins, I suppose.”

– Jeff Hood can be reached at jhood@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, August 3 2012
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