Richard Petty (200 Cup wins), David Pearson (105), Bobby Allison (84), Darryl Waltrip (84), and Jeff Gordon (84). Three Hall of Famers, one who soon will be, and the winner of the last race at Pocono. Yes, Mr. Gordon is among some fine company.
[media-credit name=”CIA Stock Photo” align=”alignright” width=”250″][/media-credit]In his 19 full seasons in NASCAR, Jeff Gordon has accomplished all that a driver can, other than maybe winning three more championships to tie the seven of Petty and Dale Earnhardt in that category. The odometer turns 40 in August, yet it would seem that Gordon could have another decade in him if he so chooses. He has piled up his victories by averaging between four and five per year, and he has been in the Top Ten in more than 60% of all the races he has run.
Still, some think the man is on the downside of his career. We can all wish our twilight years could be so bright. Gordon’s 50th victory came at Talladega more than 11 years ago, almost a decade has gone by since his fourth title, and last year he tied for his second worst finish in the standings. Of course, we are talking about Gordon, who calls a bad season one where he finishes 14th, as in his rookie year (1993), and 11th in 2005 and 2010. Since the last time he was king, he still has won 26 events. Only two drivers have won more over that time, five-time champ Jimmie Johnson (54) and Tony Stewart (27) with only twenty other drivers in Cup history even able to claim to have won more than 25 races over their entire career.
While he remains outside the Top Ten, and an automatic berth in the dash for the crown, his two victories this season should almost give him a lock on one of the two wild card invites. I think the odds are high that Rick Hendrick will once again be the championship car owner, however there remains an argument as to which of his top two performers over the years will provide that honor. We were witness to that last Sunday at Pocono.