Feature Story

The NAPA 500 (from a different point of view)

By Carol Parsons

(November 11, 1998)- - "Gentlemen, start your engines!" I hear the announcer shout. My own heart pounds with the same adrenaline that the drivers must feel for their chosen sport; the same thrill of thunder and speed that drives them to get into their cars every week.

The green flag flies and the gas pedals are floored. What an awesome sight to see at this Atlanta Motor Speedway. The colors, cars, speeds, and drivers make this sport one of the best there is. And who is the star of the show? Jeff Gordon.

Gordon is one of the best drivers ever and his contributions to the sport should be commended, not booed. It's a few laps into the race and Gordon in his #24 DuPont Chevrolet has already made his way from his 21st starting position to fifteenth. His driving, car, crew chief, and team make for an unbeatable combination of knowledge and teamwork.

Thirty laps into the race and Gordon has already moved into seventh spot. I find myself without worry when it comes to Gordonís starting position. No matter what it is, he is always able to win. Then the rain stops the action. I feel as frustrated as the teams must feel. The crowds hang out all day; they are die hard NASCAR fans. I wait, watch, and pray the entire day that the race will get back under way. And finally the race is back under green (at 9:40 at night!) and the fans cheer.

Jeff Gordon makes his way to first place, my heart pounding with what I feel must be the same beat as his. I keep thinking that this "super man" can't lose... until they pit the final time. He comes out in 8th position with only 25 laps to go. Now I begin to worry. I know Gordon can do it, but Iím not sure if he can in only 25 laps. He moves up in a hurry as I sit on the edge of my seat yelling, "GO JEFF!!"

With only a few laps to go, Gordon passes Dale Jarrett. I begin to shake inside and tears roll down my cheeks. He has done it. Jeff Gordon has won his 13th race of the season to tie the modern day record of the "King" Richard Petty. To the cheers and booís of the crowd, Gordon pulls into the winners circle. He is not only accepting the nightís win, but his third career Winston Cup Championship as well.

People might say that Jeff Gordon does not deserve all that has come to him. But I feel itís men like him that deserve the rewards of a job well done. On this night in Georgia, nobody did it any better.

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