While the rainy weekend at Texas Motor Speedway has dampened fans' and drivers' spirits alike, Jeff Gordon has a completely new perspective on the inclement weather.
The driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet, this weekend sporting the National Guard colors, has that new perspective based on a special encounter with the Special Forces.
Gordon visited the Special Forces operations outside near Austin, Texas and it was raining there. Yet, the troops continued to train even more vigorously, repeating their mantra of "If it ain't raining, we ain't training."
"I was so motivated by that," Gordon said. "I told them I wished we could race in the rain.'
"After that experience and seeing their dedication and commitment," Gordon continued. "It made me want to get out there and do something in the rain on the race track."
National Guard is a relatively new sponsor for Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports team. Yet even Gordon acknowledged that many may not link him naturally to weapons and heavy training.
"I don't think a lot of people think of me as a guy who likes to shoot guns or get down in the mud," Gordon said. "But believe it or not, I do have that in me."
"I was really excited about the opportunity to go visit with the Special Forces," Gordon continued. "And I got to fly in a Blackhawk helicopter."
"To be able to shoot some of the incredible weapons as well as get trained on how to clear rooms—the closest I ever get to that is Tom Clancy Rainbow Six video games—so that experience was amazing," Gordon said.
Although most people do not know it, Gordon grew up in a family that was very involved in hunting. According to Gordon, his stepfather John Bickford did a lot of deer hunting as Gordon was growing up.
But being in the midst of the Special Forces team and carrying his own weapon gave the NASCAR four-time champion a whole different understanding of the work of the National Guard.
"Holding that rifle as a team with other Special Forces soldiers," Gordon said. "That was really cool."
"Representing the National Guard has been something that really, really impacted me personally," Gordon said. "These are men and women that have everyday lives and jobs and they are highly trained to protect our borders and abroad and in war. It's somebody that I'm extremely proud to be associated with and represent.'
"The Special Forces are as versatile and highly trained and 'kick butt' type of individuals that you'll ever come across," Gordon said. "The fact that we're carrying them on the car this weekend takes our relationship with the National Guard to a whole other level.'
"Having that one on on experience with those actual soldiers was amazing," Gordon said. "It's an exciting weekend for us."
Gordon is the defending race winner, securing his cowboy hat and guns last year. At Texas Motor Speedway, Gordon has one win, 7 top-five finishes and 9 top-10's.
The driver of the National Guard Special Forces race car also has 2 poles and an average start of 9.4 at the track. Gordon has also led 457 laps at Texas Motor Speedway.
If the rain ever stops, Gordon will start the Samsung Mobile 500 in the 12th position. He qualified in his National Guard Special Forces No. 24 Chevy at a speed of 189.833 miles per hour and a time of 28.446 seconds.