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Archive for Monday, June 13, 2011

Jeff Gordon wins 5th Pocono title

June 13, 2011

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— Jeff Gordon is pushing 40, far removed from the cocky kid who shot to superstardom and helped put NASCAR on the mainstream map.

At any age, Gordon still knows how to win.

Don’t put the rocking chair on the front porch quite yet. Not when Gordon still burns out near the finish line, stamps his name alongside the sport’s greats in the record book, and believes a fifth Cup championship is a realistic goal.

Gordon moved into a tie for third on NASCAR’s Sprint Cup career victories list, winning for the 84th time when he took the checkered flag Sunday at Pocono Raceway. His 84 wins tie him with Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip for most in Cup history, and he tied Bill Elliott with five wins on the 21⁄2-mile triangle track.

“There’s no doubt, I’m blown away with what I’ve accomplished,” Gordon said.

It’s a career for the ages — and the aged.

Gordon won in February at Phoenix International Raceway and has multiple victories in a season for the first time since 2007. Gordon’s victory at Phoenix ended his drought at 66 races without a win. This 11-race winless stretch was just a blip compared to that miserable skid.

Gordon used to not drive more than a month without a win. He reached double-digit victories in three straight seasons (1996-98) and seemed a lock to hit 100 victories by 35 and put himself behind only Richard Petty on the all-time list.

Petty leads with 200 wins and David Pearson is second with 105.

Gordon’s won races with a mustache and a mullet, and his hair tinged with a touch of gray. He won them as the most feared driver on the planet in the ’90s, then sporadically in recent years. He celebrated as a “Rainbow Warrior” and a family man.

This victory was a bit more special for Gordon, who turns 40 in August. His first order of business once he hopped out of the car was a kiss from his daughter, Ella.

Gordon’s wife and two children are his greatest gifts.

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