1999: Testing The Waters

Season Recap

Jeff Gordon returned to the Busch series in 1999 for a limited six race schedule. He had formed a raceteam with his longtime crew chief called Gordon-Evernham Motorsports (GEM). While Gordon and Evernham said the new team was developed as a "minor league" to help Hendrick Motorsports develop young talent, both the driver and crew chief were also using the team to see how well they would be able to work together from an ownership standpoint. Dodge had discussed making a return to Winston Cup racing and wanted the duo to spearhead its efforts. At the outset, both Gordon and Evernham declined their advances. In time that would change.

Longtime mechanic Patrick Donahue was promoted to crew chief of the #24 Busch car for Rick Hendrick's son Ricky. Pepsi signed on to sponsor Gordon's six races while DuPont Finishes signed on for the younger Hendrick's events. The team started strong with a second place qualifying effort at Las Vegas and a fourth place finish. Four weeks later in Texas, Gordon started fourth but spun late in the race and finished 13th. At Charlotte, Gordon debuted a Star Wars paint scheme to promote the recently released movie. A rear end problem relegated him to a 33rd place finish after starting fifth.

Ricky Hendrick made his debut for Gordon-Evernham Motorsports in July at Myrtle Beach. He finished three laps down in 20th in his Busch series debut. Gordon's fourth Busch race came at Michigan in August. He finished second after a spirited late race duel with Dale Earnhardt Jr. In late September, Ray Evernham left Hendrick Motorsports to form his own team. Dodge had come calling.

With Evernham remaining as his Busch crew chief, Gordon posted another runner-up finish at Charlotte in October. Ricky Hendrick took the wheel at Rockingham and crashed hard in turn three. He attempted to qualify the following week at Memphis but failed to make the race. Gordon returned to the #24 car for his final BGN race of the year at Phoenix and drove to victory. For the first time since 1992, he pulled into victory lane in a Busch race. But this time it was as a car owner and a three-time Winston Cup champion. Following the Phoenix race, Gordon asked Evernham to sell his interest in the GEM operation. Rick Hendrick purchased Evernham's ownership stake. Gordon would continue in BGN in 2000 driving for JG Motorsports. Ricky Hendrick would race in select events in the #24 car driving for Hendrick Motorsports.

Sam's Town 300
Las Vegas
Coca-Cola 300
Carquest 300
Napa 200
All Pro 300
Outback Steakhouse 200

1 win. Limited schedule
Outback Steakhouse 200

1999 Overall Statistics
RacesWins Top5Top10 Poles
6 1 4 4 0

Busch statistics page

Jeff Gordon Online

Copyright 2002 Jeff Gordon Online
All rights reserved.