2003: Changing Channels

Season Recap

Jeff Gordon began the 2003 season looking to bounce back from an inconsistent 2002 season. However, the first three races of the season produced disappointing results. He was shuffled out of the draft just before the rains came to shorten the Daytona 500, going from second all the way back to 12th. A week later at Rockingham he was involved in a chain-reaction spin on the frontstretch and finished 15th. He looked to Las Vegas as an opportunity to gain momentum early in the season. A mid-race spin by Mike Skinner collected Gordon in turn two. Heavy damage to the front of the car resulted in a 37th place effort. A runner-up finish at Atlanta boosted Gordon in the top-10 in the points standings. At Darlington an out of character late race driving mistake while leading damaged the right front of the car. A 33rd place finish was the end result.
The DuPont team regrouped and put together a string of four consecutive top-10 finishes which culimated with a dominating victory at Martinsville Speedway. As spring turned to summer, Gordon began chipping away at the points leader. A runner-up finish at Dover, a third-place effort at Michigan, and a strong second-place run at Sonoma thrust Gordon up to second in the points standings as the series reached its late June break.
June was a transition month for Gordon. His divorce proceedings were finalized which relieved his mind (and his bank account) of a lingering burden. In the racing world Gordon was able to fulfill one of his lifelong dreams. In mid-June he traveled to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to turn a few practice laps in Juan Montoya's F1 car. Within a few circuits around the Indy road course he was turning laps just outside of the starting grid for the U.S. Grand Prix. Which left many wondering "what if..."
Back in the NASCAR world, the summer was an arduous time for Gordon. After dominating the race at Loudon in July, a late race four-tire change saw Gordon lose track position and finish 24th. A week later he was battling in heavy traffic when a chain-reaction crash sent him spinning into the turn three wall. A fourth place finish at the Brickyard gave the team a brief respite, but things continued on a downward spiral. He won the pole position at Watkins Glen but was tapped from behind by Greg Biffle in the first turn and dropped back to 43rd place. He rallied up to third place but ran out of gas on the final lap. Coming to the finish line he was hit by Kevin Harvick and spun into the outside guardrail. Unable to restart the car he was credited with a 33rd place. An ill-time cut tire at Michigan put him a lap down and resulted in a 30th place finish. Gordon captured the pole position at Bristol but was again involved in a chain-reaction crash in the mid-stages of the race. A 28th place finish and a drop to fifth in the points standings was the outcome. He had hoped for better fortunes in September but the month got off to a rough start at Darlington. Battling race traffic he was tapped by Casey Mears going into turn three and spun backwards up the track resulting in heavy damage to the front and rear of the car. A 32nd place finish in the Southern 500 removed him from legitimate title contention.
As summer gave way to fall, Gordon's finishes began improving. Four consecutive fifth place finishes at Dover, Talladega, Kansas City, and Charlotte preceded back-to-back victories at Martinsville and Atlanta. Gordon swept both Martinsville races in dominating fashion but needed a late race pass on Bobby Labonte to take the lead at Atlanta. A caution in the closing laps allowed Gordon to hold off a charging Tony Stewart for his 64th career victory. Gordon concluded the season with a seventh place finish at Phoenix, a disappointing 22nd place effort at Rockingham after battling handling issues, and a solid fifth place finish in the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
For the second consecutive season, Gordon posted three victories and finished fourth in the series points standings. He also led the most laps of any driver in NASCAR's top series. An above average season by most standards, but not a championship-caliber year. Inconsistency hurt Gordon's chances in 2003. The 2004 Nextel Cup championship will come down to consistent finishes on a weekly basis; something that has eluded Jeff Gordon in the past two seasons.

RaceStartFinishPts Position
Daytona 500131212
Subway 400231513
UAW-DaimlerChrysler 40023720
Bass Pro Shops/MBNA 5003028
Carolina 40053315
Food City 5002910
Samsung 500736
Aaron's 499485
Virginia 500113
Auto Club 50014113
Pontiac 4006164
Coca-Cola 600483
MBNA 400923
Pocono 50012133
Sirius 400633
Dodge/Save Mart 350822
Pepsi 4003143
Tropicana 400242
New England 3002242
Pennsylvania 50025363
Brickyard 4001943
Sirius at the Glen1333
GFS Marketplace 40021303
Sharpie 5001285
Southern 50014325
Chevrolet 4005105
Sylvania 3007196
MBNA America 400656
EA Sports 500556
Banquet 400756
UAW-GM 500256
Subway 500116
MBNA 5001915
Checker 500474
Pop Secret 40016225
Miami 400554

3 wins. 4th in points
Virginia 500
Subway 500
MBNA 500

Return to the statistics page


Copyright 2003 Jeff Gordon Online
All rights reserved.