Milestones In The Road

Jeff Gordon enters his 19th season in NASCAR's highest division in 2011. For those who can remember Gordon rim riding around midwestern dirt tracks in a sprint car, the passage of time may be difficult to comprehend. Due to his level of success and longevity in NASCAR, Gordon can attain several milestones in the 2011 season.

Although some still remember the rookie in the rainbow-colored #24 car with the yellow stripe on the back, Gordon's career has stood the test of time. His first Cup series race came when George Bush was President -- the FIRST George Bush. In all, his career has spanned four different presidential administrations. Consider that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was a 3rd grader in Dobbs Ferry, New York, when Gordon drove his first Cup series race. Or that Miley Cyrus wasn't even born when Gordon made his debut on a cold day at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

For starters, Gordon will have a new primary sponsor for 22 races in 2011. The AARP Foundation's Drive To End Hunger will adorn Gordon's car for the balance of the season. He'll also have a new crew chief in Alan Gustafson -- his sixth crew chief at the Cup series level. And he'll have a new working address for his team after moving approximately 200 feet west into the new-look 5/24 shop.

Through all the changes he's experienced in the sport, Gordon is now viewed as one of the elder statesman in the garage area. Some chuckled when Carl Edwards called him a "pioneer" of the sport during a video montage at the NASCAR Awards Banquet in 2010. However, Edwards' description is not entirely off-base when you consider the exponential growth of NASCAR's fan base during Gordon's salad days in the 1990's. As much as Gordon has accomplished in the Cup series, there remains a steadfast desire for more victories and championships. To quote Jimmy Buffett, "you lust for the future, but treasure the past."

Following are the potential milestones in 2011:

  • Running at the finish Gordon has been running at the finish in 532 of his 617 career races (15th all-time). He'll surpass Dale Jarrett's career total by running at the finish just 11 more times.

  • Top-10 finishes Gordon has 378 top-10 finishes in his career. He needs 13 more to move ahead of Darrell Waltrip for 5th on the all-time list. He needs 22 more to reach the 400 top-10 milestone. However, just twice in the last 6 years has Gordon scored more than 20 top-10's in a season.

  • Top-5 finishes With 274 top-5 finishes entering 2011, Gordon is 6th on the all-time list. He needs 3 more top-5 finishes to pass Darrell Waltrip for 5th in history, and 8 more top-5's to pass Dale Earnhardt for 4th all-time.

  • Pole positions Gordon enters 2011 with 69 career pole positions. His most recent pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October 2010 tied him with Cale Yarborough for 3rd on the all-time list. He'll take sole position of 3rd all-time with his next pole. A pole in 2011 would also give him a pole for 19 consecutive seasons.

  • Laps led With 21,657 laps led during his career, Gordon ranks 7th on the all-time list. He needs to lead 1,474 laps to pass Darrell Waltrip for 6th all-time. However, just once since 2001 has Gordon led more than 1,474 laps in a single season (2003).

  • Lead lap finishes Gordon ranks 2nd all-time with 440 lead lap finishes in 617 career starts. Mark Martin (499) is the all-time leader and will only add to his total in 2011.

  • Career starts With 617 career starts, Gordon ranks 20th all-time. By starting all 36 races in 2011, Gordon will surpass Buck Baker (635) and tie J.D. McDuffie (653) for 18th on the all-time list at the end of the season. In 2012, he would surpass Dale Jarrett and Dale Earnhardt in career races started.

  • Wins on speedways Gordon is NASCAR's all-times wins leader (67) on tracks 1-mile or longer. Of Richard Petty's 200 wins, just 62 came on tracks 1-mile or longer.

  • Wins on short tracks Gordon has 15 career victories on tracks less than 1-mile in length. Two more victories will move him into a tie for 19th with Speedy Thompson.

  • Total victories Gordon has 82 career victories. His next win will tie Cale Yarborough for 5th on the all-time list. He needs 3 wins to surpass Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip to take sole possession of 3rd on the all-time list.

  • Championships This is the main source of disillusion for scores of Gordon fans due to the Chase for the Championship. Gordon has four career titles and would tie Jimmie Johnson with 5 titles (3rd all-time) if he can claim the 2011 Sprint Cup.

  • Feature Stories

  • Jeff Gordon Chevrolet || Jeff Gordon Wine Collection || Jeff Gordon Foundation
    Copyright 1998-2011 || Privacy Policy
    Follow 'Jeff Gordon Online' on Twitter