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The Top 10 Wins of Jeff Gordon's NASCAR Career

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10. 1994: Coca-Cola 600, Charlotte Motor Speedway

A year earlier he was a nasally former midget racer with a creepstache, a mullet and a pair of Oakley Blades that Softball Guy would kill for. Fast forward a year (and a trip to Super Cuts) and Jeff Gordon was primed to become the fresh face of NASCAR. After a controversial move to Chevrolet and Hendrick Motorsports after an association with Ford and Bill Davis Racing went south – literally – Gordon had a lot to live up to. Despite some spotty success in his rookie season, he had torn the front clip off of 15 Ray Evernham-prepared machines (Danica hasn’t even done that). However, it all came together in the longest race of the year in 1994 when Gordon scored the first win of a career that has spanned four presidents and three generations of NASCAR stock cars – all the while wearing the same stylized No. 24.

by Vito Pugliese

9. 2011: AdvoCare 500, Atlanta Motor Speedway

The 2011 season marked a rebirth for Jeff Gordon. Teamed with crew chief Alan Gustafson’s group that had won five races two seasons earlier with Mark Martin, Gordon was looking for a rejuvenation along the same lines. Gordon was in a slump, having won just once in the previous three seasons (and people give Junior grief?), he was in need of a change. The results came quick, as Gordon won at Phoenix and Pocono, then made an indelible mark in the record book, winning his 85th career Cup race at the 2011 AdvoCare 500. The win moved him to third place on NASCAR’s all-time wins list. When the only two guys ahead of you are "The Silver Fox" and "The King," you have moved into “legend” territory …

by Vito Pugliese

8. 1998: NAPA 500, Atlanta Motor Speedway

The 1998 season was perhaps Jeff Gordon’s watershed year. It was the debut year of the Ford Taurus, the downforce monster introduced to end Chevrolet’s run of five consecutive titles. The Taurus conspired to capture 15 race wins in its debut season, however, Jeff Gordon decided to tie NASCAR’s Modern Era record for wins at 13, matching Richard Petty’s 1975 feat. Not only did Gordon win nearly 40 percent of the races that season, but he rained on Ford’s parade by snagging his third championship in four years.

by Vito Pugliese

7. 1997: The Daytona 500

When team owner Rick Hendrick was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer, his team wanted to win one for the boss man. In the closing stages of the 1997 Daytona 500, Gordon, along with teammates Terry Labonte and Ricky Craven, teamed up on the lone Ford of Bill Elliott, passing him with five laps to go. The trio scored a 1-2-3 finish, giving Hendrick his first 500 win since 1989 with Darrell Waltrip. It was Gordon’s first of three Daytona 500 triumphs to date.

by Vito Pugliese

6. 1996: Tyson Holly Farms 400, North Wilkesboro Motor Speedway

If there were ever a study in NASCAR contrasts, this would be it. One of the oldest and most antiquated tracks on the Winston Cup Schedule was nestled in North Wilkesboro, N.C. The 5/8-mile bullring was basically one constant turn, and despite its throwback charm, was deemed unfit for the unbridled growth NASCAR was set to experience. The sport was on the verge of going mainstream, and Jeff Gordon was the fresh new face attracting sponsors, fans and the attention that it was previously unaccustomed to. In a fitting “changing of the guard” moment, Gordon outran Dale Earnhardt to score his lone win at Wilkesboro in his eighth attempt, leading a commanding 207 of 400 laps in the final Cup race at the facility.

by Vito Pugliese

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5. 1999: The Daytona 500

Gunning for his second Daytona 500 win, Gordon staged an epic late-race duel with Rusty Wallace and RCR “teammates” Dale Earnhardt and Mike Skinner (note how Big E doesn’t go with Skinner when Gordon makes his move). As Ricky Rudd exits the pits around the 9:30 mark, Wallace tries to block Gordon’s move below the yellow line — before there was a yellow line rule. In a 195 mph game of Chicken with Rudd’s Ford, Wallace relents, Gordon merges and goes on to capture his second win in the Great American Race, holding off The Intimidator’s last lap charge with the late Kenny Irwin Jr. in tow.

by Vito Pugliese

4. 1997: Food City 500, Bristol Motor Speedway

The incident that gave rise to the term “Bump and Run” in the NASCAR lexicon – and arguably made it acceptable by today’s racing standards. Rusty Wallace had led 240 laps and all but had the 1997 Food City 500 bagged and in the cart when, on the last lap, he slowed in Turn 3 just enough to allow Jeff Gordon to get to his bumper. The ensuing tap moved Rusty up the track and propelled Gordon to his third Bristol win. Gordon’s move occurs right around the 6:00 mark — as does crew chief Ray Evernham’s incredulous reaction.

by Vito Pugliese

3. 1997: The Winston, Charlotte Motor Speedway

This race may be better known for the car as opposed to the driver. Ray Evernham’s infamous “T-Rex car” utilized so much real estate in the rulebook’s gray area that NASCAR instructed the crew chief to never bring the piece back to one of its racetracks. Having driven from the back to the front twice, Gordon said of the car in victory lane: “I knew I had an awesome race car. I’m telling you, that thing was bad to the bone. I drove into the first turn and thing stuck like glue and I said, ‘Ohhhh yeah, here we come, man!’”

Fast forward to the 4:20 mark to catch the final 10-lap dash to Gordon’s $207,000 payday. Starting fourth, Gordon assumed the lead a lap-and-a-half into the segment and pulled away for his second of three All-Star race victories.

by Matt Taliaferro

2. 1997: The Southern 500, Darlington Raceway

When some fans and analysts question Jeff Gordon’s desire (as his career in the Cup Series is almost old enough to buy a beer) many cite this move in the closing laps of the Southern 500 as something we haven’t seen from him in a while. It was the third of four consecutive Southern 500 wins for Gordon at NASCAR’s oldest speedway race — and arguably second only to the Daytona 500 in prestige. Back before he was flipping $14 million condos, a million dollar bonus (in 1997 dollars) from Winston was on the line if he could win this crown jewel. Jeff Burton would later say, “If I could’ve got back to his bumper I would have paid him back, but I couldn’t get there …” Burton would repay the favor in 2011 at Texas Motor Speedway, prompting Gordon to exit his car and, uh, beat Burton up.

by Vito Pugliese

1. 1994: The Inaugural Brickyard 400, Indianapolis Motor Speedway

While not the first win of his career, this has proven to be the defining one. The inaugural Brickyard 400 was met with much fanfare and anticipation, as a tire test two years earlier brought over 50,000 people to the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Indiana native (or California, depending on what side of the country the tour is on) Jeff Gordon had this one circled on his calendar, as did his cadre of open-wheel faithful. A door-to-door battle with Ernie Irvan over the final 20 laps was one of the best battles in the event’s history, and America was introduced to the kid that would become the face of NASCAR for the next 20 years.

by Vito Pugliese