Jeff Gordon knew the direction his life was going to take by age five when his stepfather brought home two mini-open wheelers for Jeff and his sister. It didn’t take long before Gordon wanted to race competitively and a career was born. By the age of 11, Jeff had moved from quarter-midgets to go-karts and won all 25 events he raced in. He moved on to sprint cars at 13 and won 22 race and 21 pole positions. In 1989, Jeff Gordon was racing midgets and won Rookie of the Year. The following year, at 19 Gordon became the youngest person to win the USAC Championship. He followed that with becoming the youngest driver to win the Silver Crown the following year.
In 1991, Jeff Gordon drove a stock car at the Bud Baker racing school and was hooked. He set a series record of 11 poles in the Busch Grand National.
In 1993 Jeff Gordon moved from Busch to Winston Cup. Racing the Dupont Chevorlet for Ricky Hendrick, Gordon had one pole, seven top- five’s, and 11 top-ten finishes Gordon was named Rookie of the Year. In 1994 Jeff took his first Winston Cup checkered flag at Charlotte. He then went on to win the inaugural Brickyard 400. He ended the 1994 season with seven top five finishes and 14 top-tens in addition to his two victories. He was eighth in the points standings.
The 1995 season started with a 22nd place finish at the Daytona 500 but by the following week in Rockingham, Gordon and the Rainbow Warriors not only won the pole, but made his way to the checkered flag. The win was followed by three more pole positions and two more trips to victory lane in the first seven races of the season. Things only got better as the season moved on and by the fifteenth race a victory at Daytona, followed by at win at Loudon placed him in the top points position. Even with Gordon’s seven wins, eight poles, 17 top-5’s and 23 top-10’s, it was not going to be an easy championship win. Dale Earnhardt would fight until the very last race to put an eighth notch on his championship belt. Earnhardt won the last race but Gordon had led a lap and that was all that was need for him to hold off Earnhardt by 34 points, becoming the youngest Winston Cup Champion in the modern era.
Gordon’s 1996 season was no less impressive. With seven wins and seven races to go, Gordon was leading teammate Terry Labonte in the points race. A win at Dover, followed by wins at Martinsville and North Wilksboro placed Gordon in the lead with four races left. A 31st place finish for Gordon and a win for Labonte at Charlotte, cut Gordon’s points lead to one. Labonte’s third place finish and Jeff’s 12th place finish in Rockingham allowed Labonte to move into first place. By the final race of the season Labonte was leading Gordon by 47 points. But early mechanical trouble that put Gordon two laps down by the 10th lap and a fifth place finish by Labonte gave Terry a 37 point lead and the Winston Cup Championship.
The race for the Championship would not be any easier in 1997. Gordon won the ’97 Daytona 500 and followed that with a win in Rockingham. He had 8 more victories through the season but going into Charlotte and only five races left to go, he was only 137 points ahead of Mark Martin and 222 in front of Dale Jarrett. Gordon finished fifth, one spot behind Martin. Jarrett led the last 54 laps and took home the victory. Now Jarrett was only 197 points out and Martin just 125 points behind. A blown tire at the next race in Talladega sent Gordon into the infield collecting all the cars in the top five for the points race. Terry Labonte went on to win the race and Jeff finished 35th. Jarrett managed to make the most out of the situation with a 17th place finish and Martin took 20th. When all was said and done Gordon now led Martin by only 110 points and Jarrett by 155. A fourth place finish at Rockingham by Gordon the next week was good enough to keep Jarrett who finished second still 145 points behind and Martin’s sixth place put him 125 points out of the top spot. A win by Jarrett in Phoenix changed the points race dramatically as Gordon ended up with a 17th place finish due to a flat tire. Martin’s sixth place finish kept him in the running 20 points behind Jarrett who was only 77 points shy of Gordon. The last race of the season in Atlanta could send anyone of them on the Championship victory lap. All Gordon had to do was finish 18th or better. A pit road crash in practice forced Gordon into a back up car but despite Jarrett and Martin finishing second and third, Gordon held on the points lead with a 17th place finish and won his second Winton Cup Championship title in three years. It was the closest points race in NASCAR history.
Jeff Gordon’s 1998 season tied him with Richard Petty’s modern-era record of 13 wins including a second win at the Brickyard 400 becoming the first driver to win the event twice. It also netted him an extra cool million in the Winston No Bull 5. By the end of the ’98 season Gordon racked up his 13 wins, seven poles, 26 top-5’s and 28 top-ten’s and his third Winston Cup Championship though not with the drama of the previous year. He easily beat out Martin and Jarrett, his closest competitors again with a 364 point spread over Martin and 709 more than Jarrett.
Gordon started the 1999 season with a win from the pole position at Daytona and added six more trips to the winner’s circle throughout the season. He totaled seven poles, and 18 top-five’s and 21 top-ten’s and headed into the off season in sixth place. 2000 gave Jeff Gordon three more wins and three more poles to add to his career totals as well as 9th place overall. But 2001 was far more promising. Doubling his wins and poles from the previous season, Gordon once again claimed the Winston Cup Championship title. It would be his fourth.
The 2002 and 2003 gave Jeff Gordon three wins each and a solid fourth place in points for both seasons. Going into the 2004 Nextel Cup season Jeff Gordon has 64 career victories, four Winston Cup Championships, and two Daytona 500 wins.