JEFF GORDON AT ATLANTA - WHAT IT WOULD MEAN TO WIN THIS WEEKEND Hampton, Ga. -- A win this weekend in the NAPA 500 would mean three wins for Jeff Gordon in as many races at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It would also mean a win in the century-ending...
JEFF GORDON AT ATLANTA - WHAT IT WOULD MEAN TO WIN THIS WEEKEND
Hampton, Ga. -- A win this weekend in the NAPA 500 would mean three wins for Jeff Gordon in as many races at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It would also mean a win in the century-ending NASCAR Winston Cup event.
By winning the NAPA 500 last year, Gordon was able to celebrate his 13th victory of 1998 which tied Richard Petty for the most wins in one season. In addition, there was a ceremonial celebration for Gordon as he laid claim to his third Winston Cup championship in four years the previous weekend at Rockingham.
Then, as if it was scripted into "Behind Closed Doors with Joan Lunden," which the DuPont Automotive Finishes team filmed at the Cracker Barrel 500 earlier this year, Gordon took Lunden and his team of Rainbow Warriors to victory lane for a second-consecutive win at Atlanta.
If Gordon were to score a victory on Sunday, it would be his eighth this season. That would not only guarantee him the most wins this season, it would give him the most wins for five-consecutive seasons -- a Winston Cup record. Only Jeff Burton can tie Gordon for the most wins this season.
A win this weekend would also be Gordon's 50th-career victory and he would close out the century in a tie for eighth on the all-time win list with Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson.
In other words, a win this weekend would create a benchmark for Gordon going into the year 2000 and another century of NASCAR competition.
"I never dreamed that my career would wind up where it is today," said Gordon. "We have accomplished so much in so little time -- it's overwhelming to think about it."
Gordon's first Winston Cup race was at Atlanta on November 15, 1992. Ironically, that was Richard Petty's last career start. He has finished in the top-10 in half of his 14 races at Atlanta, including three wins and six top-fives. The first win came in the spring of 1995.
"It would be nice to finish the year out with a win," said Gordon. "We've got nothing to lose and we're going to give it our all. Either way, having won seven races, including the Daytona 500, and seven poles, I'd say we've had a successful year.
"Congratulations goes to Dale Jarrett, Todd Parrot and Robert Yates Racing for their championship season. They were the best team this year and they deserve this championship."
With the championship decided and one race remaining, what would a win at Atlanta mean?
A toast to the end of a century.