Off-Track


Gordon 20 years later: Still battling No. 2 car

May 07, 2014, Staff report, NASCAR.com

Gordon 20 years later: Still battling No. 2 car
Charlotte Motor Speedway honors 20th anniversary of Gordon's first win

RELATED: Watch Gordon, Keselowski wreck | Four-time champ expects more out of Kes

May 29th will mark the 20th anniversary of Jeff Gordon's first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win in the 1994 Coca-Cola 600. On Tuesday, Charlotte Motor Speedway celebrated the occasion with the winning No. 24 car on NASCAR Hall of Fame's Glory Road.

"To get to the Cup Series, to drive for Rick Hendrick was a dream come true," Gordon said. "I never thought I'd win my first race at Charlotte. I can't believe it's almost been 20 years."

Behind Gordon's DuPont Chevrolet on Glory Road is a No. 2 Miller Lite car. It reminded Gordon of the finish of his first win ahead of runner-up Rusty Wallace, but he also recalled last week's race at Talladega after getting taken out following a spin by Brad Keselowski.


Jeff Gordon wins the 1994 Coca-Cola 600.
(Credit: Charlotte Motor Speedway)

 

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"I love how Rusty's car is right here," Gordon said. "Or is that Keselowski?"

"I'm not sure. Kind of the same things happened on the track between both Rusty and Keselowski -- a lot of wins and me and him coming in contact with one another."

The visual brought back memories and emotions of Memorial Day weekend 1994 and the final laps before his first trip to a NASCAR premier series Victory Lane.

"With like eight or 10 to go, I kept saying, 'Where's Rusty? Where's Rusty?'" Gordon said.

"(The team members) were like, 'Don't worry. You've got it. Just keep on going.' At that moment, it started to sink in, and I tried to hold (the emotion) back as much as I could because I wanted to stay focused and didn't want to make any mistakes and put good laps together.

"I knew getting through traffic was important, but it did start to take over. That chill in my spine was definitely there with taking the white flag, and then (I) got to Victory Lane and then it just all kind of erupted."

Charlotte Motor Speedway president and general manager Marcus Smith honored Gordon's five points-race wins and three NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race victories at the track with a collage of photos from the driver's history at the facility. As part of the presentation, the track worked with Gordon's management team to include the gloves worn in that race 20 years ago.

"Winning the 600 so early in his career is like a golfer going to Augusta and getting his first win at the Masters," Smith said. "He showed an unimaginable level of grit and determination for a 22-year-old, and little did we know how many more times we'd see that familiar face in Victory Lane over the next 20 years."

If he isn't able to win this weekend at Kansas Speedway (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, FOX), points leader Gordon will attempt to notch his first victory of the season 20 years after his first career win in the Coca-Cola 600 (Sunday, May 25, 6 p.m. ET, FOX).

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