HAMPTON, Ga. - In early March of 1995, a 23-year-old Jeff Gordon rolled into Atlanta Motor Speedway looking, not only for his second win of the season, but for the momentum to push him to the top of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point ...
HAMPTON, Ga. - In early March of 1995, a 23-year-old Jeff Gordon rolled into Atlanta Motor Speedway looking, not only for his second win of the season, but for the momentum to push him to the top of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings.
Gordon, driver of the DuPont Chevrolet, won the race that weekend, leading 250 of 328 laps and he jumped from 13th to sixth in the point standings. He assumed the points lead in July at New Hampshire International Speedway and went on to win his first Winston Cup championship. That season he won the most races (seven) and scored 23 top-10 finishes in 31 events. During one stretch from June to October, he won four races and scored 14 straight top-10 finishes. He also grabbed the most Bud poles (eight), led the most laps and miles and won more than $4.3 million -- a record at the time.
"We were really taken by surprise that year," Gordon said. "We never thought in only our third year of Winston Cup competition that we would win so many races and then win the championship.
"It was a great run we had going in '95. Now, the degree of consistency needed to win a championship in this series is even greater. The competition is at such a high level that a couple of bad finishes can end your title hopes for good."
It's early, but Gordon is off to a good start after three of the 36 events in 2001 with one win, another top-five and one pole. He has also led in each race and led the most laps (224). He hopes to continue that momentum in Atlanta where he has won three times, most recently in March of 1999, and has seven top-fives and nine top-10's in 17 starts.
"This year we're very well prepared." Gordon said. "The team has really come together and I've been saying that for a while. I know we're off to a great start this season and I think there's only greater things to come. We've just got to keep using our heads, and do what we're capable of doing to keep building this momentum."