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Wednesday October 30, 2013

Jeff Gordon loves Martinsville Speedway. He loved it before his drought-ending win Sunday.

His passion for the historic half-mile track runs deeper than his amazing on-track performances. When he views it through the eyes of a fan, he appreciates what he sees.

"I think a lot of people love tradition, and a lot of our core fans that have been following our sport for a long time have passed on, through generations, to their families following our sport. And Martinsville is about the history and tradition," Gordon said.

"But along with that, I think it's just the short-track action. I think people love the short tracks and the bumping and the banging and pushing people out of the way. I think there are just a lot of interesting story lines that come along with Martinsville, but I think it starts with its history and the history of the sport."

Gordon escaped most of the bumping and banging that is Martinsville during Sunday's Goody's® Headache Relief Shot® 500 Powered by Kroger as he roared to his eighth Martinsville Speedway victory, but his first since 2005.

After he had performed a world-class burnout, celebrated with his team and done countless interviews, the still-ecstatic Gordon jogged a few feet from Martinsville's traditional on-the-track victory lane into the front-stretch grandstands. He high-fived, fist-bumped and hugged fans amazed by his presence among them.

Gordon said he made the trip into the stands because it "was that kind of response where they're sticking around after the race." And he wanted to reward his fans for their foot-stomping, screaming support as he out-dueled Matt Kenseth with 21 laps to go.

"I couldn't hear and see everything going on when I was passing for the lead or getting the checkered flag, but I had a lot of people telling me the reaction and that's so cool. I think that's so awesome."

While Gordon appreciates the Wrigley Field, Fenway Park feel that Martinsville Speedway presents to fans, he absolutely loves the challenge of the long straight-aways, tight turns and close-quarter competition that is no different from when the track first opened in 1947.

"It is one of those tracks where things have just changed the least, and the way you drive the track has just not changed tremendously versus what we have gone through at other tracks aerodynamically and with mechanical grip at some of the longer and faster tracks" said Gordon. "Here at Martinsville I would say that it's still kind of old school. You've got to save the tires, you've got to be patient, you have to get into a rhythm. I like this track and I love coming back here".

Renewals for the STP 500 on March 30, 2014 are mailing this week and tickets for the STP 500 weekend go on sale this Friday.

Tags: Henry County, Martinsville, Martinsville Speedway, ,