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Q+A Jeff Gordon

The four-time Nextel Cup champion will kick off his 12th season this Sunday at the Daytona 500 (page 48)

SI: Would you like to see NASCAR move the Daytona 500 to the end of the season?

Gordon: I'm not a fan of restrictor-plate tracks deciding the championship. And I think Daytona is a great place for us to kick off the season.

SI: You just missed winning in the first year of the Chase for the Championship. What do you think of the format?

Gordon: It's exciting. You never know what will happen in those last 10 races. Luck is involved, and you have to be on top of your game, but at the same time you have to be good at the beginning of the season to make the top 10.

SI: Who would we be surprised to learn is a fan of yours?

Gordon: I don't know if he's a fan of mine, but I was with [Bobcats owner] Robert Johnson recently, and he said, 'You know who's a big NASCAR fan? Morgan Freeman.' That one caught me off guard.

SI: You recently filled in for Regis Philbin on Regis and Kelly (below, with Kelly Ripa). Should Regis be worried?

Gordon: I have fun with that. It's not acting. You can be yourself and have fun. But to have my own show and pull it off on my own, I don't know if that's possible. Regis has nothing to worry about right now.

SI: Soon our readers will be able to drink from the Jeff Gordon Collection of wines. What would you recommend as a meal?

Gordon: A nice juicy steak. We'll do whites and reds. I have a love for good food, and it'll be fun to contribute to somebody else's dining experience.

SI: If you could trade places with any athlete for a day, who would it be?

Gordon: Shaq. He's at the top of his game. And I'd really like to know what it's like being 7'1". --Richard Deitsch