Speedway notes: Belgium-U.S. World Cup match might strike close to home for Gordon

mstory@herald-leader.comJune 28, 2014 

SPARTA — When the United States men's national soccer team faces Belgium Tuesday in the World Cup knockout round, it means Jeff Gordon will be living in a house divided.

The NASCAR star's wife, Ingrid Vandebosch, is from Belgium.

"I know I'm going to gloat if we win," Gordon said of the United States, "and she's going to really get on me if we don't."

Gordon, who was racing in Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts, said he has been following the World Cup. He had been cheering for the U.S. and Belgium "never thinking they were going to end up going against each other," he said.

Normally on Tuesdays, Gordon said he and his wife set time aside for their children, daughter Ella Sofia, 7, and son Leo Benjamin, 3.

This Tuesday, if the couple finds a way to watch the soccer match between the teams representing their native countries, Gordon said "I'll be interested to see how divided we would actually be. Could be fun."

Dillon's Little League past

In 2002, a Little League baseball all-star team from Louisville, Valley Sports, won the Little League World Series. One of the teams they beat en route to the championship represented the Southwest Forsyth Little League in Clemmons, N.C.

The second baseman for that North Carolina team was Austin Dillon — the same Austin Dillon who now drives the No. 3 car in the Sprint Cup Series.

"We played against Kentucky," Dillon said Thursday. "We lost to them. ... They were good."

The score was 4-2.

Dillon's LLWS stats were 1-for-4 at the plate in three games, all losses. He remembers facing Valley Sports pitching star Aaron Alvey.

"I did make it on base against him," Dillon said. "That was, like, the big deal."

The Goose samples NASCAR

Jack "Goose" Givens, whose 41 points led Kentucky to victory over Duke in the 1978 NCAA basketball tournament championship game, was attending his first NASCAR race Saturday.

Asked if he is a NASCAR fan, Givens said "I am from afar."

Givens said he is friends with Kentucky Speedway General Manager Mark Simendinger. "He invited me to come," Given said. "I'm really looking forward to it."

Givens said he had gotten a picture taken with Danica Patrick and was excited to have met Jeff Gordon.

"My guy from way back," Givens said of Gordon. "I started following him years ago. He was very successful. And he's still in the points race, always one of those steady guys."

Givens was asked what he thought was most difficult: Scoring 41 points in an NCAA title game or winning the Daytona 500?

"I'd say winning the Daytona 500," he said. "All I had to deal with in that (Duke) game was a 2-3 zone that dared me to shoot."

Mark Story: (859) 231-3230.Twitter: @markcstory. Blog: markstory.bloginky.com.

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