Gordon, Hendrick plan to attack Atlanta HAMPTON, GA (Nov. 5, 1998) As far as Jeff Gordon is concerned, this week's NAPA 500 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway will not be an anti-climatic event. Even though the 27-year-old driver of the No. 24 ...
Gordon, Hendrick plan to attack Atlanta HAMPTON, GA (Nov. 5, 1998)
As far as Jeff Gordon is concerned, this week's NAPA 500 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway will not be an anti-climatic event. Even though the 27-year-old driver of the No. 24 DuPont/Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet nailed down his third Winston Cup Championship at Rockingham last week, he still intends to go after another victory in this already fantastic year. Jeff Gordon again is helping focus attention on Hendrick Motorsports.
Another win in 1998 would give Gordon and the Rainbow Warriors their 13th win of the season, which would tie the modern NASCAR Winston Cup record of 13 wins in a season held by none other than the "King" himself, Richard Petty. Gordon's title gave Hendrick Motorsports an unprecedented four consecutive championships. Gordon won in 1995 and 1997. Teammate Terry Labonte captured the title in 1996. The championship battle was decided early in the race at Rockingham. All Gordon had to do was finish 40th or better. As it turned out, the championship was his on lap 121 of the 393-lap event when two other cars were declared out of the race. Still, his determination and desire was to win the event. He took the lead for the final time from Rusty Wallace with nine laps to go and held off a charging Dale Jarrett for the win. The victory at Rockingham last week was his second straight on that one -mile track.
Gordon earned 180 points and pushed the margin over his closest pursuer for the title, Mark Martin, to 344 points, one of the largest differences in the championship battle in recent years. Gordon's magnificent 1998 season has been one of the most phenomenal not only in NASCAR history, but in the history of all auto racing. Of his 41 victories in six seasons on the circuit, 32 wins have come in the last three years (10 wins in 1996, 10 wins in 1997 and 12 wins in 1998). No one has accumulated that many wins so quickly. And at 27, Gordon is the youngest driver ever to record three championships so early in a career.
Along with the 12 wins already under his belt, he has earned seven pole positions. Nine of his wins have come in the last 19 races. He has finished in the top five in 18 of those last 19 races, 16 of those were top-three finishes. Throw out his seventh-place finish at Phoenix and Gordon's finishing average since June 14th has been a spectacular 1.86. For the last 17 races (since June 28th at Sears Point) he has ranked first in the point standings. Of the 32 completed events, Gordon has started races in the top-five 21 times and in the top-10 28 times. Since the season began, Gordon has amassed from race purses and special bonuses more than $6 million. Add the money he will receive for his championship on the NASCAR Banquet stage in New York next month and his winnings this year will swell to more than $7 million.
Gordon cashed the Winston No Bull $5 million dollar bonus twice (Indianapolis and Darlington). He established an auto racing record for money won in a single event, when he cashed $1,637,625 at the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis. He won the first ever night race at Daytona International Speedway (Pepsi 400). He became the first driver ever in the Winston Cup Series to capture the same event four times in a row (Southern 500, Darlington). Gordon has accumulated 5,173 Winston Cup Championship points through 32 races. That already is more points than any previous champion since the present points system went into effect in 1975. Cale Yarborough was the only other champion to reach 5,000 poin ts, and that was in 1977 when he reached 5,000 points even.)
Labonte, driver of the No. 5 Kellogg's/Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, also would like to grab his second victory of the year this weekend at Atlanta. His lone win this season came at Richmond. A win in the NAPA 500 would give Labonte and the Kellogg's t eam a shot at advancing one more position in the point standings from ninth to eighth place. The No. 50 Budweiser Chevrolet team and driver Wally Dallenbach are working hard in hopes of a strong finish at Atlanta to provide a season-ending boost of mome ntum, which they can carry into the 1999 season.
Source: NASCAR Online