Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Age Creeping Up on Stars of NASCAR

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Age Creeping Up on Stars of NASCAR

Article excerpt

FORT WORTH, Texas - Eddie Gossage is going to feel old this week.

And a tad vulnerable.

Gossage makes his living in NASCAR, and one of his sport's biggest stars is now just a few pit stops away from retirement.

This is Jeff Gordon's final season in the No. 24 car. Twenty- four years, 92 victories, 78 poles and four Cup championships are enough for Gordon. He returns to Texas Motor Speedway to compete for the 29th time in his career this weekend at the Duck Commander 500. His 30th and final race at TMS will come in November.

Gossage is the president of Texas Motor Speedway, and seeing Gordon this weekend will take him back in time to another era and another track. Gossage was the vice president at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the 1990s and recalls driving to Atlanta to see Richard Petty's final race.

That also happened to be Gordon's first race - and Gossage played bumper tag with Gordon driving through the Carolinas to Atlanta. Gordon was 22 then, but was on his way to earning the nickname "Wonder Boy" from Dale Earnhardt Sr.

"Somewhere along the way," Gossage said, "Jeff went from Wonder Boy to the sport's elder statesman. I don't know if we weren't paying attention or what.

"Having been around him his entire career causes me to look back at the changes in my life during that time - most notably building Texas Motor Speedway - and realize I'm not 17 anymore, either. Personally, I'd like to see him hang around just to make me feel younger, if nothing else."

But there is another reason. Gordon is 43. So are Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth. Greg Biffle is 45. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 40, and Jimmie Johnson turns 40 this year.

And that's where the vulnerability sets in for Gossage. Some of the biggest stars in the NASCAR galaxy are aging. That has to be a concern for anyone who owns a track and promotes the sport. …

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