Where were you on Valentine's Day of 1999?
I was 13 years old and a seventh grade student who felt that the concept of the commercialized holiday for romantics was overly hyped (ask me what I think 10 years later).
All I knew was Feb. 14, 1999 when the 41st Daytona 500 was held, and this rendition of the Great American Race had the suspense and drama that reminded me why I became a NASCAR fan in 1991.
Occasional race viewers who watch the events merely for the spectacular wrecks would witness a grinding, multi-car pile up in the the third corner of the Daytona International Speedway when Robert Yates Racing teammates Kenny Irwin, Jr. and Dale Jarrett misjudged the margin of error, with Irwin's No. 28 Texaco Ford making slight contact with the No. 88 Quality Care Ford amongst the lead pack of cars.
Jarrett's spinning car soon became a pinball, flipping over a few times and getting bashed into by the incoming cars of Terry Labonte, Geoffrey Bodine, Steve Park, Mark Martin, and Sterling Marlin. In all, more than 10 cars were damaged or eliminated from contention.
For Gordon's case, however, it was not simply a matter of winning the race. It was more of a case of the three-time Cup champion trying to find "friends."
Depending on the driver you may cheer for, it was safe to say that Gordon's success in the recent seasons prompted the 27-year-old from a "must-drafter" to a "clothes-hanger."
Just when it looked like a fellow competitor would draft to the front with the DuPont Chevy, the No. 24 car would be left in the dust and to the back of the lead pack.
With teammate Labonte out of the race and fellow wing-man Wally Dallenbach, Jr. nowhere near in sight, Gordon had to rely on sheer instincts to merely contend in the race.
Aided by a late race caution caused by Bobby Hamilton's crash in the backstretch, Gordon's pit crew elected to change four tires, along with Dale Earnhardt and his No. 3 Goodwrench Chevy team.
Electing to make an unlikely partnership with "The Intimidator," the man who Earnhardt dubbed as "The Wonderboy" during the 1995 season found himself suddenly from 11th spot to second place with just 11 laps to go.
Rusty Wallace looked like he was in prime position to finally win his first Daytona 500 in his 17th try at the Great American race, leading more than 100 laps in the season opener. However, Gordon had other ideas for the Fenton, Missouri driver which was either one of brilliance or one of sheer stupidity.
Either way, Gordon made a daring late-race pass for the lead, going below the apron of the front stretch near the first corner of the track. Urging his No. 24 car to get a quick draft off the wounded No. 10 car of Ricky Rudd, Gordon found himself running along side Wallace for nearly a full circuit.
With Gordon on the inside lane and Mike Skinner taking the high line, Wallace found himself in the non-negotiable middle lane, with all the turbulence and aerodynamic instability hindering his helpless Ford.
Choosing wisely, Wallace kept steady in the middle, falling back from the lead to the bottom half of the top 10, while Gordon took the point for the remainder of the 500-miler.
Capturing his second Daytona 500 win, Gordon's win may have served as a microcosm to the illustrious career of the Rainbow Warrior. He has since gone on to win a third Daytona 500 and established himself as a venerable restrictor plate racer, friends or no friends on the track.
From his youthful exuberance that had raw talent to his cagey, veteran years with almost android-like driving abilities, to choose just 10 of Gordon's 82 victories is like asking a New York Yankee fan which World Series title (of 26 championships) bears greater significance over the other.
But one thing is certain: these 10 victories defined the career of Gordon in his title years to years of obscurity.
From a breakthrough victory to a win at a track that once served as a living nightmare, it seems like that California kid has a trick up his sleeve to make his triumphs memorable to fans of any allegiance in the NASCAR circuit.