Heading into 1992, Bill Davis Racing signed Baby Ruth to sponsor Jeff Gordon in the #1 Ford. After Ray Evernham left Alan Kulwicki's Winston Cup team before the Daytona 500, Davis signed the crew chief to lead his BGN team. The pair clicked almost immediately winning the pole position at Rockingham and finishing a strong ninth. They followed that up with a pole position at Richmond and an eighth place finish. A week later, Gordon won his third consecutive pole position at Atlanta. On that March Saturday afternoon in Atlanta, the course of auto racing would be forever changed.
NASCAR Winston Cup car owner Rick Hendrick was watching the Busch Grand National race with passing interest. Glancing at the track, he noticed a white Ford getting loose in the turns. When the driver of the Baby Ruth sponsored Ford kept going for over twenty laps without wrecking, Rick asked who the driver was. He was told it was "that Gordon kid." But, it was assumed that Jeff Gordon was under contract to Ford at that point. Andy Graves, Gordon's roommate, mentioned that he didn't have a contract. On that day in Atlanta, Gordon would go on to score his first Busch series victory. He coasted to an easy win over Harry Gant.
Gordon was being recruited by many car owners at that time. His Busch car owner, Bill Davis, did not have him under contract but he assumed that Gordon would be his driver when his team made the jump up to the Winston Cup ranks. Nevertheless, nothing was signed with Davis. Gordon's contract demands were relatively light. The only issue he was steadfast in was the crew chief. He wanted his current Busch crew chief, Ray Evernham, to move up with him. Evernham wasn't a veteran of the Winston Cup series; he was a former modified driver from New Jersey. Nevertheless, Hendrick agreed to the deal and forever angered Ford executives in the process. Ford's rising young star had defected to Chevrolet.
Following his breakthrough victory in Atlanta, Gordon had a mechanical failure at Darlington and a blown engine at Hickory. Though his qualifying efforts remained strong, top 10 consistency was still a struggle. Back to back top ten finishes at Lanier and New River Valley were offset by an engine failure at Nazareth. Gordon came out of the box strong on Memorial Day weekend in Charlotte by winning the pole position for the Champion 300. He went on to win his second race of the season. In a nine race stretch, Gordon started in the top 10 every week. Back to back top five finishes at Myrtle Beach and Orange County Speedway highlighted June.
However, wrecks at Watkins Glen and Volusia County produced back to back DNF's. It would begin a five race stretch where Gordon failed to post a top ten finish. He returned to the top ten with a 9th place effort at Orange County in August. The following week at Michigan Speedway, the racing world was rocked with the practice crash and death of Clifford Allison. Gordon won the pole for the event but faded to a 19th place finish.
A solid third place finish at Darlington on Labor Day weekend kicked off the stretch run of the season. By this time, Gordon had already signed with Hendrick Motorsports for the 1993 season. His Winston Cup debut would come at Atlanta in November 1992. But there was still a Busch season to finish.
He racked up back to back pole positions at Dover and Charlotte. Gordon drove to victory in the All Pro 300 at Charlotte, sweeping both Busch races at the track in 1992. His Busch series record 11th pole position of the season came at Rockingham. He finished second to Mark Martin in the race. An 11th place finish at Hickory concluded his BGN schedule for the year-- and no doubt concluded his committment to Ford forever. There were big things on the horizon for Jeff Gordon. It was a phenomenal 1992 Busch series season that included 11 pole positions (a single-season record), most money in a season, and most laps led. The best was surely yet to come.
+1992 Baby Ruth Ford raceteam
The car that Jeff drove to 11 pole positions
+Jeff's first Busch series win
Atlanta in March 1992 with Bill and Gail Davis
|Mark III Vans 200|
|Mountain Dew 400|
New River Valley
|Roses Stores 300|
|Fram Filter 500|
|Texas Pete 300|
|Detroit Gasket 200|
|Food City 250|
|All Pro 300|
|AC Delco 200|
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