Jeff Gordon

Full Name:
Jeffrey Michael Gordon
Born:
4th August 1971 (Age 48)
Vallejo, California
Nationality:
American
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

If one driver epitomises the 1990s folly of open-wheel racing in North America then it is Jeff Gordon. A self-confessed Formula 1 fan saw the future and he chose stock car racing. Four NASCAR Cup titles confirmed a new superstar although his success has not always been welcome in the southern states – witness the beer cans thrown at his car after some victories.

Early racing career

Five years old when he began to lap a local fairground converted into a racetrack by his stepfather, Gordon was soon winning races in quarter-midgets. His family moved to Indiana so he could further his career in sprint cars and Gordon proved a prodigious star.

Track champion at Bloomington and Eldora, he was USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year in 1989 before winning the title a year later when still a teenager. Rather than make an expected move to open-wheel racing, a visit to Buck Baker’s stock car racing school at North Carolina decided that NASCAR was his future.

Stock Car racing

Gordon raced for Bill Davis Racing in the second-tier Busch Series during 1991 and 1992. He won another rookie title before finishing fourth a year later with his Baby Ruth Ford winning three times.

He made his full NASCAR debut in the final race of 1992 in the number 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Monte Carlo. The car sported the same DuPont colours that remained with Gordon throughout his career in one of the most enduring sponsorships in recent motor racing.

NASCAR champion for Rick Hendrick

Rookie of the Year and twice a race winner during his second full season in 1993 (Charlotte’s Coca-Cola 600 and the inaugural Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis), Jeff Gordon was the new star of stock car racing. That was confirmed in 1995 when the 24 year old won seven times to withstand late-season pressure from Dale Earnhardt and clinch his first Winston Cup title at the final round.

Gordon just lost the 1996 title to team-mate Terry Labonte despite outscoring him 10 victories to two but he was now the undoubted man to beat. He became the youngest Daytona 500 winner to that date in 1997 and beat Dale Jarrett and Mark Martin in a three-way championship showdown at Atlanta.

He retained the title in dominant fashion in 1998 when 13 victories included further Coca-Cola 600 and Brickyard 400 successes. Despite winning more races than anyone else (seven), Gordon was only sixth in 1999 and he then dropped to ninth at the start of the next year.

Fourth Winston Cup title

But he bounced back to take the championship lead in July 2001 as he stormed to a fourth Winston Cup title when joined at Hendrick Motorsports by Jimmie Johnson for the first time. Gordon has co-owned Johnson’s car since 2002 during which time they have largely proved complimentary but competitive team-mates.

However, fourth for the next two seasons and third in 2004, Gordon was gradually usurped as NASCAR’s dominant force by Johnson who won the title from 2006 to 2010 in an unprecedented period of domination.

Gordon was runner-up in 2007 although he endured winless campaigns in 2008 and 2010. He returned to form in 2011 and won three times to qualify for the Chase for the Cup once more (the only time he has failed to do so was 2005 when 11th overall). However, his speed and consistency deserted him during that 10-race championship play-off and Gordon slumped to eighth in the final points.

Final racing years

Gordon rolled during the 2012 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona before winning the rain-shortened Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono. He then finished second at Richmond to make the Chase once more. However, Gordon was docked points and fined $100,000 for deliberately driving into Clint Bowyer after he was nudged into the wall during Phoenix’s penultimate round. Gordon then beat Bowyer to win the final race at Homestead and secure 10th in the standings.

Sixth for the next two seasons, Gordon announced that he was retiring from racing at the end of the 2015 NASCAR season. He qualified for the Championship Four final round at Homestead that would decide that year's title. In the event, he finished the in sixth position and was third in the final championship standings.

Championship seasons