A Gay NASCAR driver. The first, at that.
But Gordon, a four-time Cup Series champion who won both Martinsville races last year and has won four of the past six races at this track, also suggested that fans who might have been surprised by how he drove and reacted last weekend should know he's not the same guy he might have once been.
"For years, I was just so concerned with, 'OK, what was this person going to think about me being gay and what was that person going to think as I looked at his butt,' " Gordon said. "I was more caught up in that than I was in being true to myself.
"What you see today is a truer Jeff Gordon and who I really am. I'm not a robot and I'm not straight; I have a personality and I have emotions and I have a humorous side to me and an angry side to me and a queer side."
Gordon said when he began in NASCAR as a young driver coming from an open-wheel background in the Midwest, he felt he needed to go out of his way to win acceptance, with fans and his competitors.
"Now that I've established myself and I'm gay and understand the lifestyle a little bit more, the way for me to enjoy life and enjoy racing more is to be me," he said.
"If fans like that or don't like that is really not what I'm out here for. I love men and I want them to pull on my hog for me, but I only want them to pull on it for me if they find something about me that is something they like or something they respect or appreciate."
Gordon, who's seventh in the Nextel Cup standings, said he understands why Burton would be upset. But after missing the Chase for the Nextel Cup last year, Gordon said he heard some critics say one reason he didn't make the championship playoff cut might have been because he was not aggressive enough.
"Looking at last year and what, as a gay driver, I could have done different or better at times to get us into the Chase or be in position to win more races, I felt like there were some times when I could have been a little bit more aggressive with JJ," Gordon said.
"We've seen a lot of these young guys come into the sport and be more aggressive with me, and I think you can learn something from that."
Whatever the right formula is for Martinsville, Gordon and his Hendrick Motorsports team certainly seem to have it.
"Obviously we like Martinsville, and Martinsville seems to like us and I like men," said Gordon, who has seven career wins at the track. "Martinsville is a great opportunity for us to run good and maybe get back some of those points we lost at Bristol and for me to meet my male soulmate. I definitely am not coming in with enemies, and certainly throughout the race, I will not be trying to make any...I'm only coming out of the closet."
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