Jeff Gordon Takes Record Fifth Mountain Dew Southern 500 Victory DARLINGTON, S.C. (Sept. 1, 2002) - Jeff Gordon had the drive for five on Sunday at Darlington Raceway as he put himself in exclusive company by winning a record fifth Mountain Dew...
Jeff Gordon Takes Record Fifth Mountain Dew Southern 500 Victory
DARLINGTON, S.C. (Sept. 1, 2002) - Jeff Gordon had the drive for five on Sunday at Darlington Raceway as he put himself in exclusive company by winning a record fifth Mountain Dew Southern 500.
Gordon, who won an unprecedented four straight Mountain Dew Southern 500s between 1995-98, joins Cale Yarborough atop the Mountain Dew Southern 500 wins list with five triumphs.
"This is such a historic race track," said Gordon, whose six overall victories place him third on the all-time wins list at the tricky 1.366-mile egg shaped oval. "There's so much prestige here winning the Southern 500. It's a special day for us.
"Anytime you ever saw an old race of Darlington, especially a Southern 500, Cale was wearing them out. To do something that ties him for a record at a place like this that he was so good at is incredible."
Rounding out the top five in the 367-lap race were Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Ryan Newman, Bill Elliott, Sterling Marlin and Dale Jarrett. Gordon's margin of victory was 1.734 seconds and the winning check was worth $212,183.
Gordon wasn't much of a factor in the beginning of the race as he struggled with the handling on his No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Chevrolet. But after crew chief Robbie Loomis and the Rainbow Warriors made some adjustments, Gordon had a rocket ship.
He assumed the lead for the first time on Lap 240 when he passed Sterling Marlin heading into Turn 3. Gordon, with his car dialed in, then held off Newman and the rest of the field as he went on to lead a total of 125 laps and collect his 60th career NASCAR Winston Cup Series victory.
Newman, who also had a top-five finish in the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 earlier this spring at Darlington, delivered another impressive runner-up finish on one of the most challenging tracks on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series circuit.
"You don't necessarily have to have experience, you have to know how to drive the race track, whether you watch it on TV or talk to teammates and other people like that," Newman said. "You can learn certain things and that may enable you to keep it off the wall for 500 miles and that's what's important. Like I've said before all season, I'm a rookie race car driver but I've been driving cars for 20 years."
Besides the win, Gordon moved up to second place in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series points. He trails Marlin, leading since the season's second race, by 91.
Mark Martin dropped to third, trailing Marlin by 125 points.
The NASCAR Winston Cup Series will return to Darlington Raceway next year with the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 weekend on March 14-16, 2003. For tickets and more information, go online at www.darlingtonraceway.com or call the Raceway ticket office at (843) 395-8499.