I became a Dale Earnhardt fan in the early 90's. So, it was natural that I also despised everything I knew about Jeff Gordon. Back in those days, it would seem that Dale would be leading a race then the 24 car would somehow find a way to beat him. Now that Gordon is preparing to start his last race at Homestead, I must now begrudgingly admit that he's a true champion and not just on the track either.

It started when I met the woman who would become my wife. She is a Jeff Gordon fan. In order to keep myself out of the doghouse, I had to keep my Earnhardt-inspired tirades about Jeff Gordon sucking to a minimum.

After Dale was killed at Daytona in 2001, Gordon was one of the remaining old-school NASCAR drivers left. As much as I didn't want to, I began to appreciate all the things Gordon had accomplished.

93 wins. 4-time NASCAR champion. First NASCAR driver to reach $100 million dollars in career winnings. Very impressive stuff. But, it's what Jeff was doing off the track that began to win me over. In 2012, he was the first NASCAR driver to win the Heisman Humanitarian Award for his work with children's charities. His primary sponsor recently was the Drive To End Hunger for seniors.

Then, to top it all off, we all learned that Jeff Gordon was funny.

Jeff Gordon's final race at Homestead Sunday won't be some melancholy farewell of a racer long past his prime. In typical Jeff Gordon fashion, he has a legitimate shot at another championship.

As a life-long Earnhardt fan, I never thought I would utter these words, but I hope Jeff Gordon wins it. He has been, is and will always be a champion and it would be fitting if he ends his career that way.

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