Jeff Gordon claims he used to slow down in his dominant years in NASCAR for the sake of entertaining races

Jeff Gordon is a 4 time Cup champ and the third most successful driver in terms of wins

Jeff Gordon claims he used to slow down in his dominant years in NASCAR for the sake of entertaining races

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon (Via IMAGO)

In the dynamic realm of NASCAR, 1993 marked the introduction of a burgeoning talent, a Californian named Jeff Gordon. His arrival signaled a seismic shift, challenging the sport’s traditional Southern roots. Gordon showcased unparalleled speed from the outset, but a notable impediment marred his debut season – an issue of completing races. In 1994, Gordon’s first win at Charlotte Motor Speedway marked the start of a legendary career, amassing 93 NASCAR victories and dominating to the extent that officials had to intervene.

Gordon’s rapid rise to supremacy was evident in 1996, claiming triumph in 10 of 31 races, a feat repeated with ten more wins in 1997. The pinnacle arrived in 1998, a historic season with an unparalleled 13 victories, matching Richard Petty‘s record. However, Gordon’s dominance stirred discontent among fans who saw each win as a setback for their favorites, fostering resentment towards the accomplished racer.

In a revealing interview with Joe Buck’s Undeniable, Gordon shed light on his racing mentality compared to Dale Earnhardt. While Earnhardt understood the bigger picture, Gordon’s focus was singular — winning. Gordon candidly admitted, saying,

 I wanna win the race. I don't care how exciting it is. None of that at that time mattered to me. I just wanted to win.

And then, NASCAR executives intervened and talked with legendary crew chief Ray Evernham, saying,

Y'all are stinking up the show. And that's not good for NASCAR.

Explaining the measures taken to address concerns about the lack of competition, Gordon provides a fascinating glimpse into the behind-the-scenes strategies, stating;

We had a signal in the car. If I had a big lead, they would say, ok, you know, one-second lead all right. Two-second lead, three-second lead and 'All right, Jeff, you have four seconds' and it would never get more than four seconds.

Jeff Gordon yearns to archive those dominant moments for future recollection and reflection in his later years

Gordon initiated the 1999 season with a triumph at the Daytona 500, followed by victories at Atlanta, Fontana, Sears Point, and Watkins Glen. Notably, crew chief Ray Evernham departed before the Martinsville race, succeeded by engineer Brian Whitesell. Amid offers from Chip Ganassi and Jerry Jones to form a team, Gordon opted for a lifetime contract with Hendrick Motorsports in 2000, elevating him to the role of vice chairman he serves now. 

Jeff Gordon
Jeff Gordon (Credits: Racing News)

Reflecting on those moments, Gordon nostalgically acknowledges that while they posed a unique challenge, it was a positive dilemma when he had to ease off to avoid maintaining a four-second lead. Speaking of such moments, the HMS VC said, “I wish I could bottle those moments up and held to those later in my later.”

Gordon’s dominance necessitating a strategic slowdown speaks volumes about how ruthless it actually was. Jeff capped off his career in 2017 and now serves as a VC for the same team that made him the icon that he is today. And even today, the team is still as dominating as it was and his contributions are only propelling them ahead. 

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