AVONDALE, Ariz. (April 14, 2009) – Fifth place is Jeff Gordon’s goal at Phoenix International Raceway – in career NASCAR Sprint Cup wins.
Gordon, who ended a 47-race winless streak on April 5 with his first victory at Texas Motor Speedway, now has 82 in his career. He stands one behind fifth-place Cale Yarborough on the all-time victories list and only two away from tying Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip for third.
While Team DuPont’s win at Texas was their first in more than a year, they may not have to wait long for their next celebration if history is any indication. In 2002, Gordon ended a 31-race winless streak with a victory at Bristol. One race later, the team was celebrating again after a victory in Darlington.
During the 2003 campaign, Gordon snapped a 22-race winless streak at Martinsville. He won the next race at Atlanta. And in 2007, Gordon entered this event without a victory in 25 races. He collected win No. 76 that night, tying Dale Earnhardt for sixth in all-time victories. You guessed it – he won the following event at Talladega. Overall, the driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet has won consecutive events 22 times.
“It was nice to get that win at Texas,” said Gordon, who is leading the standings by 162 over teammate Jimmie Johnson. “The victory there had eluded us for so long.
“But it’s also good to get that first win of the season out of the way. Every season, you’re looking to get that first win. When you get that one off your back, you can breathe and relax.
“Every win confirms you have what it takes, and it gives you confidence.” Confidence heading to a track where the No. 24 team has performed well in the past. Along with his 2007 victory at the Arizona track, Gordon has three poles, eight top- fives and 15 top-10’s in 20 starts. Another win would be another milestone in his 17-year career.
“I’ve accomplished more than I ever thought I would in this sport,” said Gordon. “To be in the same neighborhood as some of the all-time greats of NASCAR just blows me away.
“I’m sure they had the same feeling when winning a race. Once you’ve accomplished that, you want to win again.”
And again. And again.