Feature Story

50 To Remember

1-25 | 26-50

Twenty six
California 500, California Speedway- June 1997

The inaugural Winston Cup event at California Speedway came down to gas mileage. Gordon led 42 of the final 48 laps but was stretching his fuel to the limit as the laps wound down. Terry Labonte began closing in on the final lap but Gordon made it to the finish line. He coasted around the track as he ran out of gas and needed to cut across the infield grass to get to victory lane.

Twenty seven
The Bud at the Glen, Watkins Glen International - August 1997

Gordon qualified 11th and didn't take the lead until he passed Geoff Bodine on lap 53 of the 90 lap event. A late race caution bunched the field, but Gordon was able to hold off Bodine to win by more than a second. It was his eighth win of the 1997 season and first career win on a road course.

Twenty eight
Southern 500, Darlington Raceway- September 1997
1997 Southern 500
1997 Southern 500

Gordon was going for the Winston Million on a hot Sunday in Darlington. Earlier in the season he had won at Daytona and Charlotte to put himself in position for the million dollar bonus. The event started on a bewildering note as Dale Earnhardt hit the wall in turn two and then slowly made his way to pit road. Once on pit road, Earnhardt fell asleep. As the race progressed, Bill Elliott led the lion's share of the laps. After a brief rain shower, Gordon took the lead and was in position to collect the bonus. On the white flag lap, he went door to door with Jeff Burton down the frontstretch. Gordon held off Burton to collect the million dollar bonus and further etch his name into the record books.

Twenty nine
CMT 300, New Hampshire International Speedway- September 1997

Gordon's 10th and final victory of the 1997 season came at Loudon. He took the lead for the first time on lap 139 and led the most laps throughout the afternoon. He held off Ernie Irvan to take the win and a 139 point lead in the series standings. Though his points lead would dwindle down the stretch, he held on to win the 1997 Winston Cup title by 14 points over Dale Jarrett.

Goodwrench 400, North Carolina Motor Speedway- February 1998

On a cold day at Rockingham, Gordon struggled in the first half of the race but crew chief Ray Evernham continued to adjust on the car. By the end of the day, they were the fastest car on the track. He tracked down Rusty Wallace and pulled away to a comfortable win.

Thirty one
Food City 500, Bristol Motor Speedway- March 1998

Gordon's fourth consecutive victory in the spring race at Bristol. Gordon went into the pits third after Rusty Wallace, who had dominated until his engine soured with just more than 100 laps to go, cut a tire and slammed the Turn 1 wall. He came to pit road behind Terry Labonte and Dale Jarrett, but left with the lead for the first time all day. Credit to the pit crew for pulling this one out.

Thirty two
Coca Cola 600, Charlotte Motor Speedway- May 1998

Gordon second consecutive victory in NASCAR's longest race. After running out of gas on the final lap of The Winston the week before, Ray Evernham took the blame. A week later, he would vindicate himself. Gordon came from sixth to first in just six laps after changing four tires on his final pit stop, which came after a caution set up a 16-lap dash to the checkered flag.

Thirty three
Save Mart 350, Sears Point Raceway- June 1998

Gordon was born in Vallejo, California and lived in the area until he started high school. Up until 1998, he hadn't posted a victory at nearby Sears Point. Gordon won the pole for the event and elected to start on the outside of the front row. Jerry Nadeau started on the inside and tried to get the advantage going into turn one, but went through the grass area. A wild start.. and a wild finish. Bobby Hamilton had the lead of the event but was pressured by Gordon. In turn 12, Gordon made the winning move in the closing stages to win his first career race at Sears Point. With the win, he took the points lead which he would not relinquish for the rest of the season.

Thirty four
Pennsylvania 500, Pocono Raceway- July 1998

Gordon started from the outside pole and quickly asserted himself by taking the lead. Jeff has always had a knack for Pocono. It's a tricky track with three distinct corners with varied banking in each. It's often said that Pocono is a superspeedway that drives like a road course and a short track. Gordon traded paint with Dale Earnhardt during the race which brought the crowd to its feet. At one point, it looked as if both drivers would wreck in turn 3. Gordon's fifth win of the season was in the height of Rainbow Summer on the Winston Cup circuit.

Thirty five
Brickyard 400, Indianapolis Motor Speedway- August 1998

With his victory in the Coca Cola 600 earlier in the season, Gordon was eligible for a million dollar bonus as part of the No Bull Five program at Indianapolis. Gordon started third and held off Mark Martin to win his second career Brickyard 400 and second consecutive race. Three in a row was on the way.

Thirty six
Bud At The Glen, Watkins Glen International- August 1998

Gordon's second consecutive victory at Watkins Glen was a hard fought battle. He started on the pole and led the early laps. However, Mike Skinner gambled on fuel and had a commanding lead in the final laps. In the closing stages, Gordon made a daring three-wide pass on Skinner entering the inner loop for his third consecutive NASCAR win.

Thirty seven
Pepsi 400, Michigan International Speedway- August 1998
1998 Pepsi 400
1998 Pepsi 400

Four in a row! With Mark Martin dominating the event, a late race caution flag allowed Gordon a chance. Ray Evernham only changed two right side tires to help the car's handling. It worked to perfection as Gordon passed Martin in the closing laps to win. Martin was desperately trying to win the race in honor of his father, stepmother, and step-sister who were all killed in a plane crash earlier in the week.

Thirty eight
CMT 300, New Hampshire International Speedway- August 1998

Jeff's fifth victory in the last six races. Once again, Evernham gambled on tires on the final pit stop. Gordon came off pit road with the lead and held off Martin to win. In the garage area after the race, a car owner with a funny hat accused Evernham of cheating by doctoring tires. NASCAR test results later exonerated the DuPont team. The car owner that made the false accusations has never apologized.

Thirty nine
Southern 500, Darlington Raceway- September 1998

Six out of seven. And four in a row in the Southern 500. Jeff picked up another No Bull Five million dollar bonus with the victory. Jeff Burton had a strong run but wore out his tires trying to stay in front. Gordon took advantage of the situation and pulled away.

Pepsi 400, Daytona International Speedway- October 1998

The first race at Daytona held under the lights was a happening. It was rescheduled from July due to wildfires in the Daytona area. Gordon had never won a race in October or November, but the team was on a mission. Jeff Gordon was at the controls and it was full speed ahead. With the win and Martin's 16th place finish, a third Winston Cup title looked to be locked up.

Forty one
AC Delco 400, North Carolina Motor Speedway- November 1998

By starting the event at Rockingham, Jeff clinched the Winston Cup title. However, there was a race to be run. With 11 laps remaining, Jeff passed Rusty Wallace to take the lead. He went on to win his 12th race of the season and clinch the title in style.

Forty two
NAPA 500, Atlanta Motor Speedway- November 1998

The last race of the 1998 season was Jeff's modern era record tying 13th victory. A five hour rain delay in the mid-afternoon produced night racing at the track. With the lights on, Jeff charged from 8th place to get into a position to win. He fought past Morgan Shepherd, and held nothing back in getting to the front. 1998 was Jeff Gordon's year... nobody else was in his league.

Forty three
Daytona 500, Daytona International Speedway- February 1999
1999 Daytona 500
1999 Daytona 500

High stakes drama in the closing laps at Daytona. With Rusty Wallace in the lead with 11 laps remaining, Gordon made a low move just past the tri-oval. The slow car of Ricky Rudd was on the apron and looked to be in Gordon's path. A quick move up the track gave him the lead. Dale Earnhardt followed along and battled Gordon for 10 laps. Earnhardt bumped Gordon in turn four but couldn't get past. It was Gordon's second Daytona 500 victory and one of the most memorable.

Forty four
Atlanta 500, Atlanta Motor Speedway- March 1999

Bobby Labonte looked to be running away with the race. Evernham and Gordon kept communicating about the handling of the car throughout the day. The winning move was made with 20 laps remaining on a rainy day in Georgia.

Forty five
California 500, California Speedway- May 1999

Racing luck entered into the equation and allowed Jeff to visit victory lane for the second time at California Speedway. He had just come on pit road to make a green flag stop when a caution came out. Because his pit stall was located just past the start-finish line, however, Gordon stayed on the same lap as the leader, Mark Martin, who hadn't made his stop before the yellow came out. Martin's engine soon expired and Gordon pulled out to a lengthy lead on Jeff Burton before coasting to the finish.

Forty six
Save Mart 350, Sears Point Raceway- June 1999

A combination of allergies and a touch of the flu wore Gordon out through the course of the afternoon at Sonoma. He waived off a relief driver because the car was performing so well. He led 80 laps throughout the afternoon but had an off-course excursion in turn 7 on lap 51. In the closing stages, he held off a charge from Mark Martin to win his fourth consecutive road course race.

Forty seven
Frontier At The Glen, Watkins Glen International- August 1999

Five in a row on road courses came at Watkins Glen. A late race caution bunched the field and Gordon held off Ron Fellows to take the win.

Forty eight
NAPA Autocare 500, Martinsville Speedway- October 1999

The departure of longtime crew chief Ray Evernham followed a number of lackluster performances. The first race the team ran with Brian Whitesell as crew chief was at Martinsville. Gordon ran in the top 10 for most of the day but a late race caution period was the moment of truth. Whitesell elected to keep Gordon out on the track while the leaders pitted for tires. The green flag waved with 25 laps remaining. Gordon held off a late race charge by Dale Earnhardt to win his first Winston Cup race without Ray Evernham.

Forty nine
UAW-GM Quality 500, Lowes Motor Speedway- October 1999

A week after the Martinsville victory, the team came to Charlotte with renewed confidence. Sunday rains postponed the event to Monday. Bobby Labonte paced the field for much of the day and took the lead from Gordon on lap 276 of 334. He pulled out to a comfortable interval but was hindered by lapped traffic. Gordon was able to close in and make the winning pass on lap 327. It was the first time since North Wilkesboro in September 1996 that car owner Rick Hendrick was able to celebrate with his driver in victory lane.

DieHard 500, Talladega Superspeedway- April 2000

The off-season between 1999 and 2000 saw a shake-up for the DuPont team. Brian Whitesell moved up to team manager. Robbie Loomis came in as crew chief. And a new pit crew was put together to replace five departing members. The team started 2000 a little slow, but had a top 5 finish the week before Talladega. Gordon qualified 36th at the track but was able to stay with the lead draft nearly all day. He made a daring pass on Mark Martin with five laps remaining and held off Mike Skinner to win his 50th race. In terms of importance, it ranks up there with the March 1996 race at Richmond.

Jeff and Brooke Celebrate Win Number 50
2000 DieHard 500

All of Jeff Gordon's 50 wins listed have one common trait: determination. The determination that drives him to victory cannot easily be explained. When he's in the hunt late in the race, he'll make the daring move to try and win. By the same token, he's calculating on the track. NASCAR legend Bobby Allison said that Jeff Gordon is the best he has ever seen at saving a car until the end of the race when the money's on the line. Throughout the 50 wins, Gordon's career has gone from contender to winner to champion. He has firmly established himself as a legend of the sport.

Thank you Jeff for 50 to remember.

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