Jeff Gordon Prepared for Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Heading into the 1999 season, NASCAR Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon was well aware of the fact that improvements needed to be made in order to race competitively at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This Sunday's Las Vegas...

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Heading into the 1999 season, NASCAR Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon was well aware of the fact that improvements needed to be made in order to race competitively at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This Sunday's Las Vegas 400 marks the second annual Winston Cup event at the 1.5-mile oval. Gordon did not fare so well in the inaugural event. "We are making a conscious effort to focus on those tracks that we haven't run so well at," said Gordon. "Las Vegas is one we really needed to work on. "That's one of the reasons we decided to test the Busch car there. Not only did it allow us to get a feel for the Busch car, but it gave me some more track time that will hopefully translate to a better finish for us on Sunday." Last year Gordon qualified fifth and finished 17th at Las Vegas. With 13 wins and 26 top-five finishes in 1998, that race was considered a low point for the DuPont Automotive Finishes team. An additional consideration is that another Winston No Bull 5, $1 million bonus is on the line for any of the top-five finishers from February's Daytona 500, the first Winston No Bull 5 event of the season. Gordon claimed the big payoff by winning that event. When asked after the Daytona 500 about being eligible for another million dollar bonus, after winning it in three of the last four No Bull 5 events, Gordon said, "Yes, we'll be ready to try to win it again. Where's the next one?" When the answer came back, "Las Vegas", Gordon said, "Oh no. I guess we've got our work cut out for us this time." This weekend is also the first time Gordon will compete in the NASCAR Busch Series since 1992 and the first time he has competed in both the Busch Series and the Winston Cup series on the same weekend. Gordon's stint in the Busch Series as a full-time competitor lasted from 1991 to 1992. In that time, Gordon won Rookie of the Year honors and earned three wins, 11 poles, 15 top-five and 25 top-10 finishes before moving up to the Winston Cup Series in 1993. "My Winston Cup crew chief, Ray Evernham, and my wife Brooke are the owners of Gordon-Evernham Motorsports," said Gordon. "I'm just the driver. "Being able to compete in five events in the Busch Series gives us the opportunity to get more track time where we haven't always done so well. "It also allows us to give the opportunity to some up-and-coming drivers, crew chiefs and mechanics to get a start in NASCAR racing, just like the opportunity that was given to me and Ray. And hopefully it will help ensure the long-term success of the Winston Cup team." Evernham is also a big believer in this type of arrangement. "Baseball has a farm system that prepares players for the big leagues," said Evernham. "It only makes sense for Winston Cup racing to have a similar system. "The average age of this DuPont team is not as young as it was when we started out in '93 and these guys can only be on the road for so many years before they start getting burned out. We want to have people in place and ready to step in when the time comes so that we don't miss a beat." With three NASCAR Winston Cup championships in the last four years, 43 career wins, and a host of other records and accomplishments, Gordon and his team of Rainbow Warriors haven't missed much of anything.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Ray Evernham