FOURTH MEMORABLE ALL-STAR VICTORY FOR TEAM DUPONT? CONCORD, N.C. (May 12, 2009) - Each of Jeff Gordon's three All-Star wins has been memorable for different reasons. While a fourth victory for the Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) driver would make ...
FOURTH MEMORABLE ALL-STAR VICTORY FOR TEAM DUPONT?
CONCORD, N.C. (May 12, 2009) - Each of Jeff Gordon's three All-Star wins has been memorable for different reasons. While a fourth victory for the Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) driver would make history, his strongest challenge may just come from within. Entering Saturday night's non-points event at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports current driver lineup has won eight of the last 14 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Races. Gordon's three wins occurred in 1995, 1997 and 2001 - all championship seasons for the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion. Teammates Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin have captured two apiece while Dale Earnhardt, Jr., won this event in 2000.
"I think the All-Star race is a spectacular event and everybody in it is a proven winner," said Gordon, who is tied with the late Dale Earnhardt for most victories in this annual event. "The competition is going to be incredibly fierce, and you must push yourself and the car. The pit crew will be asked to 'step up' and the crew chief will be forced to make some big decisions regarding pit strategy.
"The whole team will lay it all out there on the line and, the fact we've won it three times, it means a lot. It's a big event to win."
In 1995 in only his second start in NASCAR's All-Star event, the driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet dominated the event by winning all three segments. Two years later, Gordon captured his second victory in a car that became extinct only days later.
"The Jurassic Park car, 'T-Rex,' was just an effort by Hendrick Motorsports to build a better, faster car," said Gordon. "It was built primarily for one race - the all-star race in 1997. At the same time, though, we felt some of the ideas - if they worked - could be adapted to future cars.
"We didn't know we were going to be as strong as we were, win the race and get the attention of NASCAR quite the way we did. We were within the rules, but they didn't like some of the things we did with the car and wanted to make some rule changes. I think that's something that everybody at Hendrick Motorsports can be proud of. "
Gordon's third victory in the All-Star event occurred in 2001, and it was definitely a victory by an organization - not just one team.
"I thought we were going to win the race that night - the race home," said Gordon. "First turn, first lap, and we're wrecking.
"But since it was caused by rain on the track, NASCAR allowed us to use our backups. I'll never forget the sight of walking into the garage area and seeing all the HMS teams helping us prepare our backup car. And then to go out and win the event after that was just incredible."
And the fourth victory for Gordon? Could anything be more memorable than a four- way battle amongst your teammates?