Feature Story

50 To Remember

Jeff Gordon won his 50th career NASCAR Winston Cup race in April 2000 at Talladega Superspeedway. To commemorate the occasion, here's a look back at Jeff's first 50 wins. Victories 1-25 are on this page with 26-50 on the next.

1-25 | 26-50

Coca Cola 600, Charlotte Motor Speedway - May 1994

The first win is always the most memorable. Jeff ran up front for most of the day. On the final green flag pit stop, the leaders took on four tires. Crew chief Ray Evernham called for just two right side tires. The call put Gordon out in front by a wide enough margin to win his first race.

1994 Brickyard 400
1994 Brickyard 400
Brickyard 400, Indianapolis Motor Speedway - August 1994

Winning the inaugural NASCAR race at the famed track was a huge boost to Gordon's popularity on a national scale. Gordon won after a late race battle with Ernie Irvan. When Irvan cut down a tire with a few laps to go, the grandstands erupted. The kid from Pittsboro was on his way to victory. The first win was special, but this one was huge.

Goodwrench 500, North Carolina Motor Speedway - February 1995

After a disappointing finish in the Daytona 500, Gordon thoroughly dominated the following week at Rockingham. Rick Hendrick said after the season that he never had a car dominate a race like Gordon dominated Rockingham in February. It was the win that gave the team confidence to embark on their championship season.

Purolator 500, Atlanta Motor Speedway - March 1995

A cold afternoon in Atlanta, but Jeff Gordon was red hot. He held off Bobby Labonte to take his second win of the 1995 season.

Food City 500, Bristol Motor Speedway - April 1995

In Gordon's first two Winston Cup seasons, he crashed at Bristol every time he visited the track. To contend for a championship, he needed to not only finish, but finish up front at Bristol. In April 1995 he did just that holding off Rusty Wallace to win.

Pepsi 400, Daytona International Speedway - July 1995

Jeff's first win in a points paying event at Daytona. The ending was the ultimate in suspense. A restart with two laps to go saw Gordon hold off Sterling Marlin and Dale Earnhardt to take the win.

Slick-50 300, New Hampshire International Speedway - July 1995

Gordon followed up the Daytona victory with a win in Loudon. Looking back, it was around this time when the NASCAR world took serious notice of Gordon's effort to take Dale Earnhardt to the limit. Earnhardt was on a quest to win his eighth title, but the upstart was turning into a contender.

Southern 500, Darlington Raceway - September 1995

In April at Darlington, Gordon had a strong run ruined when he couldn't avoid a wreck in front of him. He couldn't let Earnhardt get back into the title hunt. He held off 'The Intimidator' to win at Darlington, the toughest track on the NASCAR circuit.

MBNA 500, Dover Downs International Speedway - September 1995

Gordon padded his points lead on a humid Delaware afternoon. In the home state of his primary sponsor, Gordon put a stranglehold on the Winston Cup title.

Pontiac 400, Richmond International Raceway - March 1996

This was probably the most important victory of Jeff Gordon's career. In terms of importance, it ranks up there with the win at Talladega in April 2000. His big career wins came at Daytona and Indianapolis, but this win at Richmond was vital. After winning the 1995 Winston Cup title, Gordon finished 41st at Daytona after an early crash and 41st at Rockingham after a blown engine. Self doubt was in the air. Was 1995 a fluke? On a chilly afternoon in Richmond, Gordon silenced the critics. He was, and continues to be, the real deal.

TranSouth 400, Darlington Raceway - March 1996

Gordon's second consecutive victory at the track "Too Tough To Tame." He pulled away to an easy victory over Bobby Labonte and Ricky Craven. Suddenly, he was back in the points race.

Food City 500, Bristol Motor Speedway - April 1996

Days when the rains came. As the Food City 500 passed the halfway point, the scramble for position was on as the skies darkened. Jeff Burton wrecked Bill Elliott to bring out a caution flag as the rains began. After a lengthy wait, NASCAR finally called the race around 5:30 pm. As the track lights came on in the pouring rain, a jubilant Gordon pushed the DuPont Chevrolet into victory lane.... in front of an empty grandstand.

Miller Genuine Draft 500, Dover Downs International Speedway - June 1996

Gordon made it two in a row at Dover with a victory in the 4 hour event. The car named "Blacker" was in its heyday. Gordon led 307 of the 500 laps. That total included 174 of the first 185 and the final 129. Always consistent Terry Labonte finished second. Though Gordon visited victory lane more often, Labonte's finishes were more consistent in 1996. In the end, that would show up in the points standings.

UAW-GM Teamwork 500, Pocono Raceway - June 1996

Jeff's first win at Pocono was a runaway victory over Ricky Rudd. He led 94 of the 200 laps. The DuPont team looked to be on its way to a second title.

DieHard 500, Talladega Superspeedway - July 1996

In a race delayed by rain, Gordon pulled out the victory over six Ford drivers. The race was marred by a spectacular wreck which started when Ernie Irvan went on the apron of the track in the tri-oval. Irvan then moved up the track and hit Sterling Marlin in the left rear. Marlin turned sideways and took Dale Earnhardt head-on into the wall. Gordon was running behind Irvan and held his low line on the track. He got through the wreck and won his first race at Talladega.

Southern 500, Darlington Raceway - September 1996

The Labor Day classic saw Gordon hold off Hut Sticklin to win his third in a row at Darlington. Stricklin raced the Stavola Brothers Ford as hard as he could and wound up blistering his tires. Gordon took advantage and cooly made the winning pass with 10 laps to go. A veteran move by the 25-year-old phenom.

MBNA 500, Dover Downs International Speedway - September 1996

Three in a row at Dover. This marked the final 500 mile NASCAR race at the one-mile oval. The marathon event took nearly five hours to complete. Late race incidents tested the tempers of more than a few drivers. After wrecking, Jimmy Spencer got out of his car and proceeded to try and "tackle" Wally Dallenbach's car. But for the winner, it was grace under pressure.

Hanes 500, Martinsville Speedway - September 1996

Gordon made it two in a row, and three out of four with a win in Martinsville. He led five times for 133 laps, including the final 112. After a late race caution flag, a one lap dash to the checkered flag ensued. Gordon held off Terry Labonte to take the win.

Holly Farms 400, North Wilkesboro Speedway - September 1996

A piece of NASCAR history died as North Wilkesboro held its final NASCAR race. The track was purchased by two individuals consumed with the almighty dollar. For the curtain call, the 37 drivers took a picture by the start-finish line before the race. Gordon held off Dale Earnhardt for his last win of the 1996 season. Mechanical trouble at Charlotte and a lackluster effort at Rockingham sealed his fate as the series runner-up. Ten victories was a major accomplisment, but it didn't bring the title.

Daytona 500, Daytona International Speedway - February 1997

Team owner Rick Hendrick was unable to visit the track during the 1997 season while battling leukemia. In the Daytona 500, Gordon made a late race pass around Dale Earnhardt to pull into second place as Earnhardt wrecked. On the restart, he got around Bill Elliott. Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports teammates Terry Labonte and Ricky Craven followed for a 1-2-3 finish.... for Rick.

Twenty one
Goodwrench Service 400, Richmond International Raceway - February 1997

Gordon became the first driver in 21 years to open the season with back-to-back victories. He didn't have the best car through much of the afternoon. However, crew chief Ray Evernham kept adjusting on it. With less than 50 laps remaining, Gordon passed Dale Jarrett to the lead which he would not relinquish.

Twenty two
Food City 500, Bristol Motor Speedway - April 1997

An afternoon of hard racing on the .533-mile track. Gordon trailed Rusty Wallace as the drivers took the white flag. The lapped car of Jimmy Spencer slowed Wallace on the backstretch allowing Gordon to close in. Following a tap in turn three, Gordon went low to pass Wallace. It was the most dramatic victory of his career. It was a hard core move on a short track. It was a move patented by the legends such as Earnhardt, Petty, Allison, and Johnson. Move Jeff Gordon up a notch.

Twenty three
Goody's 500, Martinsville Speedway - April 1997

Gordon's fourth win of 1997 was a one sided affair. He led 431 of the 500 laps, losing the lead only for scheduled pit stops. Disaster nearly struck when Jimmy Spencer tapped the left rear of Gordon's car in turn four. Jeff nailed the gas, did a complete 360, and kept going. A late caution gave the field one last chance, but Gordon held off Bobby Hamilton and Mark Martin to take the win.

Twenty four
Coca Cola 600, Charlotte Motor Speedway - May 1997

Rain in Charlotte made for a long night. As 12:30 am approached, NASCAR called for the race to conclude at 333 laps, 67 short of the full distance. Rusty Wallace had the lead and was pulling away. However, Gordon began to run him down and made the winning pass on the outside with 17 laps to go.

Twenty five
Pocono 500, Pocono Raceway - June 1997

An early race flat tire put Gordon nearly a full lap behind. However, a well timed caution flag helped him remain on the lead lap. Ward Burton dominated the race but blew an engine in the closing stages. Gordon took the lead for good on lap 184 and held off five Ford drivers to win.

Wins 26-50

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