Gordon's goals: championship, million-dollar bonus TALLADEGA, Ala. (Oct. 8, 1998) Jeff Gordon goes after his 11th victory of the 1998 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend in the Winston 500. Winning the race...
Gordon's goals: championship, million-dollar bonus
TALLADEGA, Ala. (Oct. 8, 1998) Jeff Gordon goes after his 11th victory of the 1998 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend in the Winston 500. Winning the race and gaining championship points are the main goals for Gordon and the No. 24 DuPont/Hendrick Motorsports team, but not the only ones. Gordon has another huge incentive going for him this week. He could win his third consecutive million-dollar check in the Winston "No Bull 5" bonus program. Already in 1998, Gordon has earned a pair of million-dollar checks, posting wins in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis and in the Pepsi Southern 500 at Darlington. His record fourth consecutive Pepsi Southern 500 win made him one of five drivers eligible for this week's No Bull 5 shoot-out at Talladega. The other drivers vying for the bonus this week are Jeff Burton, Dale Jarrett, Dale Earnhardt and Jeremy Mayfield. At Darlington, Gordon delighted in being able to draw the name of one of five eligible fans to also win a million dollars in the No Bull 5 "They win, You win" Sweepstakes program. Gordon is looking forward to selecting another envelope with the name of a fan eligible for the million-dollar prize at Talladega. Had Gordon been eligible for the "No Bull 5" Bonus in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte this year, he would have reaped another million dollars, for at Charlotte he won both the Bud Pole and the race. Including the million-dollar bonuses he has won in 1998, Gordon's total money winnings for the season have catapulted to an amazing $5,582,232. With five races remaining this year, and the "No Bull 5" money just dangling there to be won, Gordon could set another unprecedented record for earnings in one season. And should he win the championship again, that would add another million and a half to his total. For Gordon and his Rainbow Warriors Team, though, the 1998 NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship is still the primary goal. With Mark Martin's seventh victory of 1998 at Charlotte last week and Gordon's fifth-place finish, Martin was able to trim 25 points from Gordon's points lead. The difference now is just 174 points (4,457-4,283), and Gordon knows a poor run and a bad finish could slash his lead even more. Gordon and his DuPont crew also want to put an end to Gordon's winless streak in October and November. The two-time champion has never won a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race in the season's final two months. He has posted a victory at Talladega Superspeedway, in the Diehard 500 in 1996, but that was in July, not in October. Still, having won there in the past should give him confidence that he can do it again, and at a critical time of the season. Since mid-June, Gordon has accumulated an amazing string of finishes -- 15 straight top-fives and 13 finishes in the top-three. Seven of his 10 victories this season have come in that same span. He has posted four runner-up finishes, two thirds and two fifth-place showings in those same 15 races.
So it's no wonder that Gordon has claimed a solid lead in the standings. But Martin's pursuit of him is seemingly relentless, and Gordon knows there can be no let-up in his or the Rainbow Warriors' intensity until the title fight is decided. Gordon, of course, is not the only successful driver, or even the only champion, in the Hendrick Motorsports stable. His Hendrick teammate Terry Labonte seemed well on his way to another top-10 finish at Charlotte last week, but "The Iceman's" No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet was one of those involved in a big lap-203 wreck. Labonte's 38th-place finish dropped him from ninth to 10th place in the current point standings, so he, too, has a big incentive to post a victory or very high finish at Talladega this week. Labonte is intent on continuing his string of finishing in the top-10 in points in the season-ending standings, a streak that goes back to 1994, the year he first joined Hendrick Motorsports. Also like Gordon, Labonte has reason to be confident at Talladega. He held on for a victory in last year's October event at the ultra-fast superspeedway, his only win of the 1997 season. Wally Dallenbach and the No. 50 Budweiser Chevrolet team are geared up for a strong run at Talladega, too. Dallenbach and the Tony Furr-led team are looking to get back into the form that produced three top-10 finishes for them in mid-season. Dallenbach's best showings in the Budweiser car to date have come on big, fast tracks.
Source: NASCAR Online