Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Faith on the Frontstretch: Jeff Gordon Shouts for Joy in Martinsville Victory Lane

Jeff Gordon runs to celebrate with his crew after winning at Martinsville, Nov. 1, 2015.
Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images  
“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”   ~ Hebrews 12:1b

“Woooo! Yeah! We’re going to Homestead!”

That was Jeff Gordon’s victory shout as he pumped his fist in Victory Lane at Martinsville last Sunday.

Moments earlier, his on-track celebration was a display of pure, childlike joy unlike anything many fans have seen in their NASCAR-watching days. Forgoing a burnout, Gordon stopped his car on the start-finish line and stood on his door, arms extended heavenward. Hopping down onto the track with the agility of a teenager, he pumped his fists in the air like a prize fighter – boom, boom, boom, boom -- while dancing a little jig.

His joy was infectious, fueling the crowd to a jubilant roar, as they expressed their own excitement at experiencing the historic win.

When Gordon’s family arrived in Victory Lane, he hugged daughter, Ella, whose joy was evident from her grin. She jumped up and down, too, just like her daddy. Her little brother, Leo, smiled sweetly, but seemed a bit overwhelmed.

“I hope that one day Leo remembers this,” Gordon said. “I think back to when I was five, I remember some special moments, but I don't remember a whole lot... but my daughter, she gets it. She's going to go to school and people are going to probably say they saw her on TV, how did the race go, whatever maybe. She gets to talk about this moment. We get to talk about it all the way home. That's very special.”

When Gordon’s wife, Ingrid, hugged and kissed him, her face radiated joy, too. It was a poignant family moment that fans were blessed to share.

“Ingrid, I love her so much,” Gordon said. “She so badly wants to see us succeed and be a part of a championship celebration. She's never experienced that. I can just tell she's really excited and proud. To know she's supported me the way she has, to see that smile on her face today was awesome.”

In his post-race press conference, Gordon still had trouble getting his head around the fact that he won the race. 

“I keep going through these moments where I'm hearing you say it, and still it's not registering because I can't believe it. I cannot believe it!” he said, when asked to talk about the win.

“This is one of the finest moments I think I've ever had in my career, I'll be honest. It's just because what this year means, that this is my final year, my final race at Martinsville, punching our ticket to Homestead, having my family here, the hard work this team has put together, that reaction from the fans. This is one of my finest moments I've ever had.”

Emotions run high in Victory Lane, as drivers give recognition to not only their families and crew members, but to myriad sponsors. Teams do the hat dance with sponsor caps and a Sunoco banner, all nods to those who back them. A handful of drivers – Austin Dillon, Trevor Bayne, Jamie McMurray, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch – sometimes thank the Lord out loud in their on-camera interviews. Others may offer their thanks privately in their hearts.

Remembering Jeff Gordon’s 93rd win -- with his expressions of pure joy -- will bring smiles to many NASCAR fans for a long time.

When you have your own joyful occasions in life, will you share credit with those you love? Will you unashamedly jump for joy like Jeff Gordon did? More importantly, will you figuratively raise the banner of Jesus by acknowledging His hand in your victory?

Celebrate often – both the little triumphs and big successes God brings your way. The truth is, being a child of God is all the cause for celebration you need. Go ahead, shout for joy. Wooooo!

May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God. ~ Psalm 20:5a (NIV)

Want to relive Jeff Gordon’s victory celebration? Click here to see up-close footage from through the lens of cameraman Matt Dillner.


“Faith on the Frontstretch” explores the role of faith in motorsports and runs every 1st & 3rd Wednesday of the month during the NASCAR season. Follow Beth on twitter at @bbreinke.

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