Jeff Gordon and Marcos Ambrose.
One a bonafide NASCAR star, the other just getting into his stride having rebooted his career for the third time. Including Ambrose's V8 Supercar stats, they have racked up 110 wins and six championships in their careers between them.
So we're talking about two pretty handy racing drivers.
Last week at the Watkins Glen tyre test, Polaris met Southern Cross (for all you Astronomy buffs out there) as Gordon handed Ambrose the keys to his #24 Dupont Chevrolet while Ambrose did the same with his #47 Little Debbies Toyota...don't worry, they both cleared it with the manufacturers.
Jeff should be old hat at this since he did a similar thing around a decade ago with Montoya's F1 car at Indy but I don't think Marcos has experienced swapping cars - paint, words and ends, yes, but not cars - before, so I'm sure behind his cheshire cat grin there would have been a tiny pang of worry.
After climbing out, the Aussie had this to say: “There’s probably only a handful of people in the world that can say they drove Jeff Gordon’s race car. It was a real thrill for me. I will never forget it. He’s a pretty small guy, he’s not that tall and he’s got a narrow waist. I wasn’t that comfortable in the car, but I was squeezing in that bad boy no matter how hard I had to try.”
“It was remarkable how similar in feel they were. There were differences of course between the two. I’m glad I could help him if he needed it to get around that place. I’m no expert. I’m just out there driving a race car. Just to be asked in the first place was a massive thrill for me. I will never forget it.”
He did have one regret though; no one managed to take a photo of him in the #24.
As for Gordon, he reckoned he finally figured out Marcos' secret on road courses: “I learned two things there at the test. One is that when Marcos Ambrose goes really fast through the road courses, it’s not his race car. He’s just really fast. He got in my car and went really fast. I got in his car and went slow. It was just basically that Marcos is fast and that we’ve got really good power. That’s what I learned. Our Chevys haven't been as good as we felt like they needed to be so just gathering information plus I like Marcos. He's a good guy and a heck of a road course racer.”
Now, before we all get excited over this and rumours start circulating about Rick scoping out someone to replace Jeff when he finally chooses to hang up his helmet, I don't think this was anything more than two drivers just wanting a chance to do something a touch different and I'm sure the respect each have for the other probably went up a notch.
Besides, as Marcos said, there are very few people on the planet who can lay claim to have driven Jeff Gordon's race car...even if it was just for a handful of laps.