Jeff Gordon took the wraps off his new-look Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet Monday morning, unveiling the AARP Foundation’s Drive to End Hunger paint scheme that he will carry in 22 races next season.
The striking candy apple red, silver and black paint scheme will debut on track at Daytona Speedweeks next year, when Gordon will run it in both the Feb. 12 Budweiser Shootout and the Feb. 20 Daytona 500.
Gordon will also have something of a new home next season, as he will no longer have his car run out of the shop he shared with teammate Jimmie Johnson from 2002-2010. Instead, Gordon will be paired with Mark Martin in one Hendrick shop, while the other will house Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
In 2011, Gordon’s team will be led by rising star Alan Gustafson, who led Martin to a runner-up finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings in 2009.
“The neat thing about this whole deal is all these guys have worked together,” said team owner Rick Hendrick. “It’s not like they’re new. Most of them have worked a race together. They sit in debriefs together. They understand the terminology they use to describe the car, they hear it in debrief.”
Hendrick said Gordon is as hungry and committed to winning as ever.
“I think sometimes change is good because it gives you the opportunity to wipe the slate clean,” said Hendrick. “If you go back to the way things were, everybody’s pumped up for the first couple races, but the first time something goes wrong, it’s right back to where it used to be. I think it’s an opportunity for everyone to do well. I know Jeff Gordon is just as hungry as when he won his four championships. He’s a competitor and he wants to win a championship himself.”
Gordon, meanwhile, is pumped up about next season as well.
“I’m interested to see what happens because the off season gets shorter and shorter all the time. We’ve got a new sponsor, we’re going to be working hard with them to get prepared for next year,” he said. “ ... Championships are won the day we leave Homestead. It’s rest, it’s preparation, it’s personnel changes, things to do with our race cars, all those things happen the day we leave Homestead. We’ve got to focus on winning a championship and while we want to help Daytona get ready for the Daytona 500, we’ve got to weigh out our options as well as to how that plays into our schedule.”
Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEED.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100 and e-mail him at Jensen is the author of “Cheating: The Bad Things Good NASCAR Nextel Cup Racers Do In Pursuit of Speed,” and has appeared on numerous television and radio shows. Jensen is the past President of the National Motorsports Press Association and an NMPA Writer of the Year.