With the ownership experiment with Ray Evernham a thing of the past, Jeff Gordon returned to the Busch series for five events in the Pepsi Chevrolet. In ensuing years, Pepsi would sponsor Gordon's Winston Cup car for select events as the driver elected to "retire" from Busch competition following the 2000 season.
The initial foray for JG Motorsports was the Sam's Town 300 at Las Vegas. A year earlier Gordon had posted a strong fourth place finish. However, with personnel changes the team struggled to a 27th place qualifying effort and an 18th place finish, two laps down, in the race. His second race of the season in Texas was another subpar performance. Gordon made the race in second round qualifying after his first round speed would have missed the event. He started 31st but could never get up to speed. He dropped out after 89 laps with ignition problems and was credited with 41st place. A week later in Nashville, Ricky Hendrick drove the #24 Chevrolet to a fifth place finish-- one of ten events Hendrick would drive in 2000.
At Charlotte on Memorial Day weekend, Gordon came through with a strong effort. He qualified sixth and finished fourth after leading late in the race. His fourth Busch race of the season came in August at Michigan. He qualified 25th but worked his way through race traffic and finished seventh-- one position behind his future Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson.
Gordon's final Busch series race was the HotWheels 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November. He started sixth and raced in the top five all afternoon. After a late race caution flag, Gordon came onto pit road in second position and left with the lead thanks to a 16.1 second pit stop. Over the final 70 laps, Gordon steadily pulled away from Mark Martin. With 15 laps remaining, Martin began closing in on Gordon's rear bumper. Martin had closed a 1.1 second lead to 0.4 seconds in the span of four laps. Martin, the all time Busch series winner, was also making his final start in the series and wanted to close out a stellar BGN career with a victory. However, Gordon used lapped traffic to his advantage on the last lap to claim the victory- the first win for JG Motorsports. Following the season, Rick Hendrick assumed ownership of the #24 Busch team.
|Sam's Town 300|
|All Pro 300|
Copyright ©2002 Jeff Gordon Online|
All rights reserved.