THOMASVILLE — Jeff Gordon found Victory Lane last Sunday in Talladega, Ala.

Thomasville resident Deborah Chastain was the big winner, however.

Chastain won a Pepsi contest allowing NASCAR fans to come up with a design for Gordon’s No. 24 car, which he raced in Talladega. Chastain and her husband, Marty, got to attend the race and meet Gordon beforehand. She couldn’t believe Gordon’s car raced to a first-place finish.

“I walked around to watch them come off Turn 4 and ran to the checkered flag and I almost fainted when I saw the No. 24 in the lead,” Chastain said. “I was jumping up and down screaming. I almost cried it was so exciting.

“I told him I had made a ‘special paint scheme’ that had an invisible force field around it to protect him from being wrecked. It must have worked because the car did not have one scratch on it.”

The finish and the prerace festivities made this weekend, one that Chastain will never forget.

“I have yet to find the right words to describe this past weekend,” she said. “I will never forget it, and it was a once in a lifetime experience.”

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