Gordon and Johnson chosen for Nations Cup race

by David Yaeck

September 3, 2004

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Gordon and Johnson celebrate their win in 2002 in this event

Championship week will be a busy one for two of the top ten hopefuls in NASCAR’s Nextel Cup series as Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson will leave the annual banquet and board a plane to Paris, France to compete with racing’s elite in the 2004 Race of Champions (ROC) Nation’s Cup.

Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet and Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet will be representing the United States in this multi nation race. They will be up against the German team consisting of seven-time Formula One Champion, Michael Schumacher and a team from France consisting of current World Rally Championship leader Sebastien Loeb. Other countries to be represented will be Great Britain, Finland, and Spain or Italy. Those drivers will be announced at the Paris Auto Show at the end of September.

The event’s promoter in the United States, Jim Hancock, was on hand with Gordon and Johnson to announce the event which will be held in an 80,000 seat stadium in Paris and will be creating a parallel track with a crossover bridge concept that they originated in the Canary Islands, where the race had been held for the past ten years.

In 2002 Gordon and Johnson competed in Race of Champions and stunned the world by beating the Europeans. Now they look to recapture the Cup for the USA.

“I definitely think it’s about as equal of an opportunity that you can get,” Gordon said. “I’m excited. I think Michael (Schumacher) certainly brings a lot of interest to the event and I’m excited that Jimmie and I are able to fulfill our obligations here so that we can participate.”

Johnson, who is getting married the weekend after the Nations Cup was thankful for all the hard work by his fiancée to be able to allow him to compete in the race. “I have to give a lot of credit to Chandra,” Johnson said. “When she knew of this opportunity, she basically said you have to do it and go and defend our title.”

“It’s a great event and I’m glad to see all the exposure coming to the event, especially in the United States. Hopefully, we can go there and win it again. Hopefully, I can use some of my off-road experience and have some fun. It’s really an equal format and a fun format.”

At the ROC Nations Cup, teams are eliminated based on the number of heat wins and combined time (in the event of a draw). In every match, racers go head-to-head against their counterparts, resulting in extremely close action and finishes often separated by only fractions of a second. The team emerging from Saturday’s final lays claim to “the World’s Fastest Nation” title.

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