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Jeff Gordon already misses the ‘driver’s club’ five races into retirement

After an introduction from Tom Cruise, Jeff Gordon gives his congratulations to Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch and reflects on his 23-year NASCAR career.

Back in December at the Sprint Cup Awards banquet, drivers said they’d be perfectly fine with keeping the retiring Jeff Gordon on a group driver text.

Drivers, including champion Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer, believed Gordon’s decades of experience was invaluable to them.

“Let’s get through the Daytona 500 and see how I talk about them (as a Fox broadcast analyst),” Gordon said at the time. “Not that I’m going to talk bad, but I’m going to be honest.”

Almost four months later and after five Sprint Cup races without Gordon in the field, the four-time champion has had his membership to the group text revoked.

“I miss being on the (driver group) text,” Gordon said Tuesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. “I was kind of bummed about that.”

Gordon admitted the transition into his new role as a TV analyst has changed his dynamic with his former competitors to a degree. Enough to make him miss “the driver club” more than he was expecting.

“I guess I kind of miss some of the interaction with the drivers,” Gordon said. “They look at me differently. ‘Can we trust him? He’s one of us, well, he’s not really one of us anymore.’ I still sense respect from other drivers because I’m just stepping out, but at the same time they’re looking at me as ‘Don’t give too much information up there, that doesn’t help us out a whole lot.’”

Gordon hasn’t been completely exiled. With his connection to Hendrick Motorsports, Gordon was brought in to talk to Chase Elliott, his successor, to prepare for the Daytona 500.

“At Daytona, they asked me if I’d come and talk to Chase prior and be a part of their debriefing prior to Daytona to walk through previous Daytona 500’s and expectations,” Gordon said. “I’m glad they did. I do miss those competition meetings.”

But Gordon says his race preparation for Fox is enough like it was as a driver to help fill the void that comes after leaving that chapter of his life behind.

“We have our debriefs on Tuesday and we all get on a conference call and talk about the previous race, we talk about the next race,” Gordon said “Very similar to a race team. That’s really fulfilling a lot of those things.”

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