That competitive fire still burns inside Jeff Gordon.
Earlier this week, Gordon publicly announced that he would be willing to give team owner Rick Hendrick a portion of his salary in order to ensure that Hendrick Motorsports remains on the elite level it has shown in recent years. This statement by Gordon is just the latest in an off-season that has Nascar team owners thinking about money first, and racing second.
The names will all be there in 2009. Johnson, Gordon, Earnhardt Jr., and the addition of Mark Martin for what should be his last full time season on the Cup level. This cast of drivers will no doubt be the organization to beat when the teams hit Daytona for Speedweeks in February.
Building such dominance is one thing, keeping it during this tough economic crisis is its own battle.
That's where Gordon comes in.
If Hendrick needs the extra money, believe that he will take Gordon up on his offer and then other teammates will fall in line and follow along and donate as well because the drivers know how hard it is to be competitive week in and week out, and by no means do they want to lose any competitive edge they have over any team in that garage area.
The drivers at Hendrick Motorsports are about winning first, Jr and Martin will be as hungry as ever to come out of the box strong and become early contenders for the championship. I hardly think it would become an issue if they had to shell out a few million bucks for that trophy in Miami.
Any driver would willingly drive for free in order to win a series championship, and would have no problem in admitting so. I'm suprised that there hasn't been more of this from the other drivers, or a driver coming out and saying he'll take a pay cut to help the ownership out and be able to spend more towards locking up potential sponsors.
Gordon could have pressed the right button with this statement, and we may see more drivers follow suit in the weeks to come.
But just like anything else in life, only time will tell.