Jeff Gordon: 10 Most Memorable NASCAR Sprint Cup Victories of All-Time
Jeff Gordon, since taking the racing world by storm in his first Sprint Cup start at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1992, has amassed the most career victories of any driver in the modern era.
On Tuesday, Gordon took the checkered flag at the same track where he first started and moved ahead of Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison on the all-time wins list with career win number 85.
Spanning two decades, Jeff Gordon's career is filled with remarkable victories that NASCAR fans will never forget.
Here are the 10 most memorable victories of Gordon's Sprint Cup career.
10. 2004 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Don't underestimate the importance of winning at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for this Pittsboro, Indiana native. Much less winning there four times.
At the 2004 Brickyard, Jeff Gordon won his fourth Brickyard 400 and to this day is the only driver to accomplish that feat. He also is only one of five drivers in all of auto racing to have four or more victories at the famed speedway.
The win capped off a five-win season for Gordon and helped propel him to a third place finish in the final 2004 championship standings.
9. 2007 Dodge Avenger 500 at Darlington Raceway
Gordon steamrolled his way to a seventh career Darlington Raceway victory in the 2007 Dodge Avenger 500. Literally.
The No. 24 had to hold off a late charge from Denny Hamlin to secure the win. But that wasn't his only concern. Gordon's car badly overheated the last 50 or so laps of the race and led onlookers to believe that Gordon would have to go behind the wall. However, the No. 24 car lasted to the finish and made for a memorable ending to career win No. 78 for Gordon.
Gordon's seven wins at Darlington, along with Martinsville Speedway, give him the most at any track in his career.
8. 2001 Winston All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway
The 2001 Winston All-Star Race does not count as one of Jeff Gordon's 85 career wins. However, it is one of the most memorable victories in his career and in the history of the All-Star Race.
The 2001 All-Star Race is well-known for being the only race in history in which a "mulligan" was given to certain drivers. Right as the race began, nearly half the field crashed, including Gordon, going into Turn 1 due to a sudden, unexpected rain shower.
However, since the race does not count for points, NASCAR felt obligated to please the fans and gave the crashed cars the chance to restart using back-up cars. Gordon took advantage, fought his way to the front and won with his back-up car, finishing a wild night in Charlotte.
7. 1998 NAPA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway
Gordon finished his record-breaking 1998 season in style by winning the season finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The win finished off Gordon's second consecutive championship and third in four years. Most importantly, the win was his thirteenth of the season, which set a modern era record for most wins in a single season.
Win number 42 represented the prime of Jeff Gordon's career and the halfway point to his present career total. No driver since 1998 has approached Gordon's record-setting thirteen wins in a single season.
6. 2011 AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway
Fast forward to 2011 and you will arguably see one of Jeff Gordon's hardest-earned victories.
Fighting a loose-handling race car in the closing laps at one of NASCAR's fastest speedways is one thing. Holding off five-time champion Jimmie Johnson is another. Gordon was able to do both in earning victory No. 85 Tuesday in Atlanta.
The win vaulted Gordon into third all-time on the Sprint Cup career wins list, behind only Richard Petty (200) and David Pearson (105). A statistic sure to earn Gordon a quick entrance into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
5. 2007 Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway
Few rivalries in all of sports were more polarizing from a fan perspective than the one between Jeff Gordon and the late Dale Earnhardt.
In the 2007 Subway Fresh Fit 500, Gordon took the opportunity to pay tribute to The Intimidator. After tying Earnhardt on the all-time wins list at 76, Gordon's crew brought a flag with the number three on it out to Gordon, who circled the Phoenix track with the flag in hand.
The win was Gordon's first in the new "Car of Tomorrow." More importantly, the post-race tribute brought new respect for the No. 24 from fans of Earnhardt.
4. 1994 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Jeff Gordon's first win of his short career came at the circuit's longest race, the 1994 Coca-Cola 600.
Gordon won his first race from the pole, leading the field to the green flag on that memorable night. Nicknamed "The Kid" by his racing peers, Gordon would soon go on to dominate the late nineties, earning the nickname "The Wonder Boy" and winning championships in 1995, '97 and '98.
The unique paint scheme of the No. 24 car also earned his team the nickname "The Rainbow Warriors" throughout the decade.
The win would be the first of two in the 1994 season, with the second one coming at...
3. 1994 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
The inaugural Brickyard 400. There was great excitement over NASCAR's arrival at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, marking the first time stock cars roamed the track's turns.
Ironically, it was not a veteran of NASCAR such as Earnhardt or Wallace that would put the first stamp in the record books for stock cars at Indy. It was Jeff Gordon, an Indiana native, scoring his second career victory in the Cup Series and marking his permanent arrival on the scene.
Gordon dominated the race, starting in the third place and leading over half of the laps. The race marked a beginning of dominance of the Brickyard 400 by Gordon, who would go on to win three more in his active career.
2. 2002 Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway
The famous bump-and-run at Bristol. When you think of Jeff Gordon at Bristol you think of two things. Rusty Wallace and the bump-and-run.
In 2002, Gordon won his first Bristol night race controversially, by bumping the #2 car of Rusty Wallace and passing him with just a few laps left in the race. Interestingly, it was not the first time Gordon had won a race at Bristol using a similar tactic.
More importantly for Gordon, it was his first win of the 2002 season and ended a long streak of races without a win.
1. 1997 Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway
The most memorable win of Jeff Gordon's career came at the 1997 Daytona 500. Every NASCAR driver's dream is to win the "Great American Race" and Gordon accomplished the feat in his fifth try.
At the time, Gordon was the youngest driver to win the Daytona 500 at age 25. That record would stand until the 2011 Daytona 500, won by Trevor Bayne at age 20. Finishing runner-up and third place respectively were Terry Labonte and Ricky Craven, giving car owner Rick Hendrick a 1-2-3 finish.
The win jump-started a championship season for Gordon and was the first of three Daytona 500 victories.
The winning of the Daytona 500 is a career-defining event for most drivers, and Gordon's first one in 1997 ranks No. 1 in Jeff Gordon's most memorable victories.