09/11/98 Gordon Finishes a Close Second in the Exide 400 at Richmond. Jeff Gordon and the Rainbow Warriors had to settle for second place in what was undeniably the best race of the season. The #24 ran up front all night, usually behind Jeff Burton, who once again had the dominant car. It was a great race with lots of side-by-side racing, sometimes as many as three wide in the corners. Gordon chased Burton all the way to the checkered flag only to come up half a carlength short. Gordon did, however, finish ahead of Mark Martin and extended his point lead to 204 points.
09/06/98 Gordon Wins the Southern 500 and the No Bull 5. Jeff Gordon and his Rainbow Warriors did it again at Darlington, taking their fourth consecutive victory in the Pepsi Southern 500 and taking home the million dollar bonus from Winston for the third time in the three races in which they were elligible for the prize. After another strong qualifying effort of fifth, it looked as though Jeff would have to settle for second due to Jeff Burton's dominating performance almost all day. As usual, Ray Evernham and crew adjusted on the car all day long, continually getting better and better. With about 30 laps to go, Gordon took the lead from Burton for the final time and never looked back. It was the teams' tenth victory of the season and fifth at Darlington, which is conisidered by many to be the most physically demanding track on the circuit. Mark Martin, who trailed Gordon by 67 points, experienced motor problems and dropped to 40th place. Jeff now holds the point lead by 199 points.
08/30/98 Gordon Wins His 38th Winston Cup Race at Loudon. Once again, Jeff and the Warriors snatched victory from the jaws of defeat to pick up career win #38. They started from the pole position for the seventh time and led the first lap, but it was downhill from there until the last caution. Jeff got hung on the outside and quickly fell to 8th place on the one-mile, one groove race track. Jeff's car seemed to handle poorly woth four fresh tires, but came on after 20 laps or so and was as fast as the leaders. After the first caution, Jeff was up to second, but got freight-trained again, this time falling all the way to nineteenth. He worked his way up to seventh when the final caution came out. Ray Evernham called for a two-tire stop, which Jeff later admitted that he was skeptical about, but it got Jeff in the lead and actually helped to correct the car's handling woes. Jeff led the rest of the the race with no serious challenges. Mark Martin, finished second but received the bonus for leading the most laps, so the 67 point gap remained. Next week, Jeff will go for a million bucks once again in the No Bull 5 program in the Pepsi Southern 500 at Darlington, where Jeff is the three-time defending race winner.
08/22/98 Gordon Finishes Fifth in the Goody's 500 at Bristol. The national media had a field day with Jeff Gordon's chance at five-straight victories, a modern era record, but Jeff and the Rainbow Warriors only had one thing in mind: survival. Even though they have won the last four Spring races at Bristol, their Auguest record was less than stellar, a 19th place average finish in five starts. The team started off on a bit of a sour note, earning their worst qualifying position since Texas, 7th. The team was never really ever in contention for the win, getting as high as fifth and as low as tenth, but fought a loose car all night long. Jeff held onto the point lead which now stands at 67 over race winner Mark Martin. Next week the series back to New Hampshire, where the 24 team is the defending race winner.
08/16/98 Jeff Wins the Pepsi 400 at Michigan Speedway. After another strong qualifying run of third place, the team turned their attention to the race. Jeff was trying to the group of seven drivers that have won four straight races in the modern era, but at the start of the race, it looked as though it wasn't to be. The car immediately went tight and Jeff had trouble keeping up with the rest of the leaders, the car came on about ten laps in, but soon faded. Due to the usual long green-flag runs at Michigan, the team was never able to take the time to make the necesarry adjustments to get the car to handle. After the pit stops around lap 150 of the 200 lap event, Jeff was running as fast as the leaders, but had fallen nearly 20 seconds behind in sixth position and it looked as though the team would have to settle for a top ten finish. With 18 to go, Ward Burton's engine let go, bringing out the caution that the 24 team desperately needed to get back in contention. After a two-tire pit stop, Jeff lined up third behind Mark Martin and Dale Jarrett. After five exciting laps, Jeff got around Martin and Jarrett and never looked back. It was Jeff's 8th win of the season and 37th of his career. Jeff extended his point lead to 97 over Mark Martin, whosre father, step-mother, and half sister died in a tragic plane crash last Sunday. Next week, the series heads to the high-banks of the Bristol Motor Speedway, where Jeff hopes to set the all time consecutive win record.
08/09/98 Gordon Completes 98 Road Course Sweep. The NASCAR Winston Cup tour only competes on two road courses a year, and the #24 car started and finished first in both this year. Jeff Gordon and the Rainbow Warriors put on another dominant performance in Watkins Glen, NY, taking their seventh win of the season and third straight. After starting from the pole for a series-leading sixth time, Gordon easily led the first half of the race. After the usual weird pit strategies that are often used at the Road Courses, the team was mired in traffic in fifteenth place. After fighting his way to the front with some great driving, invluding a bold three wide pass on Mark Martin in the inter-loop section of the track, Gordon was second to Mike Skinner, who gained the lead through pit strategy. Gordon was at a ten-second deficit with eight laps to go, but closed nearly 1.5 seconds a lap on Skinner, who had older tires and was conserving fuel, and overtook him with four to go. It was smooth sailing from there until the drop of the checkered flag. Jeff extended his point lead over Mark Martin, who finished second and now leads by 82 points. Jeff picked up the five bonus points for leading the most laps. The series heads to Michigan Speedway next week, one of only four tracks at which Gordon has not won.
08/01/98 Gordon Wins on His Home Soil in the Brickyard 400. Jeff Gordon, who raced on the Indiana short tracks in his open wheel days, picked up his second win in the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, becoming the first repeat winner of the event. Though he was a favorite for the pole, he could only manage a third place starting position. He dominated most of the race, once again picking up the bonus for leading the most laps. Jeff now leads Mark Martin by 72 points in the standings. Jeff picked up the Winstin "No Bull 5" million dollar bonus, bringing his winnings to over $1.7 million, the largest single purse in the history of motorsport. Next week, the series heads to Watkins Glen for The Bud at the Glen, where Jeff is the defending champion.
07/26/98 Jeff and the Warriors Return to Victory Lane at Pocono. Jeff Gordon and the Rainbow Warriors dominated at the 2.5 mile Pocono Raceway today, picking up their 34th career win and the fifth of the season. The team continued it's strong qualifying streak with a second place starting position alongside Ward Burton. Things continued to go well for the team on Saturday when they were fastest in "happy hour", the final practice session before the race. Jeff took the lead early and led most of the race, leading a total of 164 of the 200 laps. Teammate Terry Labonte finished 31st after eing invloved in a wreck and Ricky Craven finished 41st with carbuerator problems. The series heads to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway next week for the Brickyard 400.
07/12/98 Jeff Finishes Third in the Jiffy Lube 300 at Loudon. Jeff and the Warriors had another good weekend at NHIS. After starting second to teammate Ricky Craven, who made his return to Winston Cup after recovering from post-concussion syndrome for several months, Jeff stayed in the top-five most of the afternoon and eventually finished third to Jeff Burton and Mark Martin. It was a typical boring Loudon race, with only a handful of passes for the lead and not a whole lot of passing throughout the rest of the field. Teammates Craven and Labonte finished 29th and 14th respectively. The series has next week off, then starts sixteen consecutive weeks that won't end until Atlanta in the final race of the year.
06/28/98 Gordon Does it Again at Sonoma. Sears Point Raceway in Northern California was one of the few tracks on the Winston Cup circuit that the 24 car hasn't made the left-hand turn into victory lane. That all changed on Sunday. The team started the weekend with a bang on Friday, scoring their fifth pole in the last seven races. Jeff dominated the early stages of the race, leading the first 37 laps. Then came the first round of pit-stops. Several cars elected not to pit and nearly everyone on the track was on a different pit sequence by the end of the race. Jeff was shuffled back and forth from 10th to 20th for the majority of the middle and closing stages of the race. With nine laps to go, Jeff passed Bobby Hamilton for the last time to take his 33rd Winston Cup victory. Gordon now leads Jeremy Mayfield in the point standings by 40. Jeff picked up ten bonus points for leading the most laps, as well as the Unocal bonus for winning from the pole and the Winston Leader bonus for winning the race as the point leader. Next week, the series heads to the Daytona International Speedway for the Pepsi 400 which will be held under the lights for the first time. Jeff has two career wins at Daytona.
06/21/98 Gordon and the Warriors Finish Second at Pocono. On Friday, the team scored it's fourth pole in six races. Amazingly, this happened after Jeff brushed the wall coming off the final turn and he still had the pole by over 2/10 of a second over the next fastest car. When Sunday rolled around, Jeff was undoubtedly the class of the Chevy cars, but didn't have anything for eventual racw winner Jeremy Mayfield who scored his first career victory. Gordon managed to lead a few laps early in the race to earn the five point bonus. The 24 of Gordon and the 12 of Mayfield were pretty equal throughout most of the race, but the 12 was always just fast enough to keep Jeff at bay. Jeff remains second in the standings, now 36 out of the lead. Teammate Wally Dallenbach scored his second top ten finish in as many races with the #50 Budweiser team. Terry Labonte came home twelfth. Next week the series heads to Sears Point Raceway where Jeff finished second in 1997.
06/14/98 Jeff Finishes Third at Michigan in the Miller Lite 400. As always, Jeff and the Warriors bounced back from a bad finish with a strong run and a top five at Michigan on Sunday. After a good qualifying effort of fourth, it looked as though Jeff would run away with the win. After taking the lead only a few laps in, Jeff easily stayed out front for over 100 laps, lapping most of the 43 car field before the first caution. But as the day went on, the Fords of Mark Martin and Dale Jarrett got stronger and stronger. Martin took over the lead shortly before the last round of pit stops and never looked back. Jarrett overtook Gordon shortly after the last stops and finished second. Gordon blamed himself for the car going away. He told the crew to tighten the car up, but it ended up being to tight to run with the 6 and 88 cars. Teammate Terry Labonte finished 19th and Wally Dallenbach, who took over in the 50 car this weekend finsihed an impressive tenth. Jef moved up to second in the point standings, 26 out of the lead. On Saturday, Jeff finished 8th in the IROC race. He sits third in points with an outside shot at the championship when the series heads to Indianapolis on July 31st.
06/06/98 Jeff Scores a DNF at Richmond. After scoring their third polein four races, Jeff and the Rainbow Warriors led the first two laps, amd pretty much just hung around the top five for the majority of the race. A late caution put Jeff second behind Rusty Wallace. Jeff went to make a pass on the outside and the 2 car went up the track making contact sending Jeff spinning into the wall. Jeff claimed that it was intentional, Rusty, of course, denied it. My personal feelings are that it was somewhere in between. Not totally intentional, but not purely accidental either. Jeff ended up finishing 37th, dropping him to fourth in points. This was Jeff's worst finish of 1998. Teammates Terry Labonte and Randy LaJoie finished 10th and 43rd respectively. Teammate Randy LaJoie finished 31st and Terry Labonte brought home the win due to a contraversial red flag with seven laps to go. The series heads to Michigan next week, one of the few tracks where the 24 car is winless, though they have several top fives.
05/31/98 Jeff Finishes a Disappointing Third at Dover Downs It isn't often that the 24 car is a dominant force throughout an entire race, but when it it, the car will almost surely end up in victory lane. That was not the case for Gordon and the Rainbow Warriors in the MBNA Platinum 400 at Dover. After a strong second place qualifying effort, Jeff wasted no time putting his #24 Chevy on the point. There it would stay for an incredible 375 of the 400 laps run in the race. That's nearly 94%. Unfortunately, it was not to be for the team as the race ended up being a fuel mileage derby. Jeff had to pit hile leading with about 10 to go to take on a splash of gas. Second place Dale Jarrett did not. Jarrett took the win and Gordon's pit stop dropped him to third place, the last car on the lead lap. The team picked up the 5 point bonus for leading the most laps and the $10,000 Gatorade half-way award. Jeff extended his point lead to 42 over second place Jeremy Mayfield.
05/24/98 Jef Picks Up His 32nd Career Victory at the World 600 in Charlotte The week started off great for the Rainbow Warriors when the team scored it's fifth straight pole for the Coke 600. This tied David Pearson's record. Things quickly turned sour for the team on Saturday, however. Jeff apparently overslept and didn't make it to the track in time for Saturday morning practice, so the team asked Terry Labonte to drive the car. Going into turn one, Labonte ran over some debris and brushed the wall. The team replaced all the right-side suspension and sheet metal, and fortunately, Jeff reported that the car was fine after the repairs were made. It looked as though Jeff would be in trouble as far as being in contention for the win. The Fords of Dale Jarrett, Mark Martin and Rusty Wallace were all strong, as was the Pontiac of Bobby Labonte. Jeff's car was extremely fast on new tires for about fifteen laps, but it would quickly fade after that. On the second to last caution flag, Jeff's team elected to take only two tires, while other teams chose to take four or none. This proved to be a mistake, as the car quickly fell to sixth place. With 17 laps to go, the 78 car of Gary Bradberry got into the wall, bringing out the final caution flag. All the leaders pitted and everyone in front of Gordon took two tires, but the 24 team. took four as they had nothing to lose. Jeff charged through the field and passed Wallace and Labonte, who were both elligible for the Winston No Bull 5 million dollar bonus with nine laps to go and never looked back. Jeff took over the points lead and is ahead of Jeremy Mayfield by 27. Jeff picked up the Unocal pole bonus and the Winston leader bonus. Jeff is also elligible for the next round of the No Bull 5 promotion at the Brickyard 400 in August. It wasn't such a good day for the rest of team Hendrick. Terry Labonte had suspension problems that dropped him to 41st and 5th in the points. Randy Lajoie wsa invlolved in a wreck that gave him a 38th place finish. The tour heads to Dover, Delaware next week where Jeff has three victories.
05/16/98 Gordon Takes Twelfth in a Wild Running of The Winston. When the team decided to bring "Blacker", the oldest and most successful car in their stable to the Charlotte Motor Speedway for NASCAR's All-Star race, the Winston, it was meant to be a throw-away car. If the car was torn up, it wouldn't really matter. But it performed as if it were brand new. After starting fourth, Jeff quickly moved to the front and led all the way, winning the first segment. The top four cars were inverted for the start of the second segment and Jeff started fourth once again. He didn't fare quite as well, finishing second to Mark Martin. After a series of pit stops, Jeff came out in the lead. NASCAR thought he jumped the start of the final segment and called off the start. After getting the field back in line for the second start, Jeff took off and never looked back, leading all the way to the end. When the white flag fell, Jeff had a 1.5 second lead on Mark Martin, but apparently ran out of gas shortly after crossing the start/finish line. Martin went on to take the victory. Eight of the twenty cars in the field went out because of wrecks or engine failures. Teammate Terry Labonte was among them. Fortunately, it was a non-points race and won't hurt the team in the championship hunt. Next week, the tour heads back to CMS for the Coca-Cola 600 where Jeff is the defending pole-sitter and race winner. If the car's preformance in the Winston is any indication, the team should be in good shape for Sunday.
05/03/98 Jeff Has a Pretty Good Weekend at California. Jeff Gordon and the Rainbow Warriors had a pretty decent weekend at Fontana, CA. On Friday, the team won it's first pole of 1998 and the first pole since the 97 Coca-Cola 600, nerly a year ago. The team now has a spot reserved for the 1999 Bud Shootout at Daytona. On Friday night, "NASCAR's Night In Hollywood: A Golden Celebration" in honor of it's 50th Anniversary. Jeff won the 'Future NASCAR Legend Award' which was voted on by NASCAR fans through NASCAR Online. On Saturday, he finished third in the IROC race, dropping to second in the points. In Sunday's race, Jeff led 23 laps and hung around the top five all day. After the fianl pit stop, the team knew it was going to be close on fuel mileage, but decided to gamble. Unfortunately, the car developed a push which would have robbed it of gas mileage. When the caution came out a few laps later, Jeff, running third at the time, had to pit and no one else around him did, dropping him out of the top ten. But with only 29 laps to go, he made a charge to the front and ended up fourth. Jeff climbed to third in points, only 47 out of the lead. Teammates Terry Labonte and Randy LaJoie came home second and thirty-sixth respectively. The Winston Cup teams a week off until the next race, The Winston on the sixteenth.
04/25/98 Jeff Finishes Fifth in the Die Hard 500 at Talladega, AL. Everyone talked about avioding the big wreck that was bound to happen, but it looked as though it wasn't going to happen. Unfortunately, it did. Ward Burton got into Dale Earnhardt in the tri-oval causing a wreck that collected at least ninteen cars. Fortunately, Jeff was the first car in front of the wreck and got through ok. With about fifteen to go, Jeff was running second behind Terry Labonte. He pulled out to make the pass for the lead, but none of the other three cars behind him went with him. So he fell to the end of the lead draft and eventually lost the draft, dropping him to a fifth place finish. Bobby Labonte went on to win. Jeff qualified sixth for the race and remains in fifth place in the standings, though he did gain on Wallace and Mayfield. Terry finished fourth and Randy LaJoie came home in tenth, giveing all three Hendrick cars top ten finishes. All three qualified in the top ten as well.
04/20/98 Jeff Finishes Eighth in the Goody's Headache Powder 500 at Martinsville. Although I didn't see much of the rain-delayed race, I'll report on what I did catch. Jeff qualified in the third spot on Friday afternoon giving the team a frontstretch pit-stall and momentum to carry into Sunday. Unfortunately, heavy rains on Sunday delayed the start of the race until Monday. Jeff did manage to lead a few laps, but with about 100 to go, the car's handling started to go away dropping the 24 car to 8th. Bobby Hamilton dominated the race in similar fashion to Jeff's domination of last year's race and went on to take the win. It was the first win for the 4 car since mid-96. Jeff is now tied with Dale Jarrett for 4th spot in the points, 106 behind.
04/05/98 Jeff Finishes 31st in the Texas 500. Between the Busch and Winston Cup drivers, thirty-nine cars were wrecked during the Texas Motor Speedway weekend and unfortunately, the 24 car was one of them. After a poor qualifying effort of seventeenth, Jeff only completed one lap before becoming involved in a wreck in turn one that damaged twelve cars. After spending several laps in the pits, Jeff rode around the track for the rest of the afternoon, eventually coming home in thirty-first. He only completed 252 of the 334 laps. Teammates Terry Labonte and Randy Lajoie finished 6th and 25th respectively. The race was won by Mark Martin. The finish dropped Jeff to fifth, 102 points out of the lead.
03/29/98 Jeff Wins His Fourth Straight Food City 500 at Bristol. Throughout most of the afternoon, it looked as though Jeff and the Warriors would have to settle for a top ten finish, but in typical team 24 fashion, they fought back and made a late race charge that resulted in win number two in 1998. Teammate Terry Labonte finished second followed closely by Dale Jarrett. Randy Lajoie, who is subbing for Ricky Craven, finished tenth giving all three Hendrick Motorsports teams top tens. Jeff now sits third in points, just 41 behind leader Rusty Wallace. Jeff's fourth straight spring Bristol win ties the record set by Darrell Waltrip.
03/22/98 Jeff Finishes Second at the Transouth 400 at Darlington. Finally Jeff and the Rainbow Warriors were able to pull off another top five finish at Darlington. A poor qualifying effort of 24th dug the team in a hole, but fortunately, that was good enough for a front-stretch pit stall. Jeff quickly moved through the field and by the second roun of pit stops, he was running in the top ten where he'd stay for the rest of the day. After the final round of stops, Jeff Burton was leading, Dale Jarrett was second and Gordon was third. Burton and Jarrett battled for the lead while Gordon sat back in third, not quite as fast, but gaining every time the two got side by side. Finally, Burton's tires wore out and he fell to an eventual sixth place finish. Gordon stayed within two or three car lengths for the last ten laps and got alongside Jarrett a time or two, but lapped traffic with two to go set him back quite a bit. Gordon got a good run going into three and four on the final lap and pulled right up on Jarrett's bumper, but it just wasn't enough. The finish moved Jeff to fourth in the points, 147 behind leader Rusty Wallace. Earlier in the week, Hendrick teammate Ricky Craven was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome from last year's crash at Texas and will be out for at least three months. Randy Lajoie will sub in the 50 car through Texas. Ford's dominance continues despite the rule changes made earlier in the week, taking 8 of the top 10 spots and leading nearly every lap.
03/09/98 Jeff Finishes Ninteenth at the Primestar 500 at Atlanta. For the second week in a row, Jeff and the Rainbow Warriors had a bad race and Ford dominated. The team did pretty much nothing all day long with Jeff getting up as high as 6th and as low as 38th after a penalty for speeding on pit raod. Tire wear was a major problem for all the teams all day long. With 8 to go, Jeff was running in 13th, but was forced to pit for right side tires and fell to 19th. Fords took 8 of the top 10 spots with the Pontiacs of race winner Bobby Labonte and Todd Bodine filled in the other two. Terry Labonte was the highest finishing Chevy in 12th. Jeff qualified ninth, never led the race and finished two laps down. He fell from sixth to seventh in the point standings. Congratulations to Bobby Labonte and the entire Gibbs racing team on their second straight win at AMS.
03/01/98 Jeff Finishes seventeenth at the inagural Las Vegas 400. After a strong fifth place qualifying effort, Jeff and the Rainbow Warriors brought the car home in seventeenth position in a race totally dominated br Fords. As at Rockingham, the #24 Chevy started off the race with severe handling problems, but unlike last week, they were never able to recover. They got to as high as second on a two-tire pit stop, but fell back quickly and never recoverd. Ford cars led 261 of 267 laps with Joe Nemechek being the only driver in the GM camp to lead with a total of six laps. Fords occupied 13 of th top 15 positions with Dale Earnhard finishing eighth and Terry Labonte in fifteenth. Mark Martin won the race and led the most laps. Jeff now sits in sixth position in points, 93 behind leader Rusty Wallace.
02/22/98 Jeff Wins the Goodwrench Service Plus 400 at North Carlina Motor Speedway. Jeff won his first race of the 98 campaign today at "The Rock". Jeff started the race as the defending champion from the fourth position. The victory was reminiscent of last year's win where the Warriors struggled and Fords dominated until the closing stages of the race. The team adjusted and tuned the car all day long and with fifteen to go, he never looked back. He picked up his thirtieth career victory, 22nd on a speedway. Jeff trails Dale Earnhardt by three points in the second position.
02/15/98 Jeff Finishes Sixteenth in the 40th Daytona 500. After a twenty-ninth starting position, Jeff had made his way to the lead by the end of the first round of pit stops and led for several laps afterwards. With seven to go, Jeff was running fourth behind eventual race winner, Dale Earnhardt, Jeremy Mayfield and Rusty Wallace. Jeff quickly started to fall back. Thanks to the pitiful (as always) CBS coverage, the reason was never disclosed. Speculation from the ESPN chat room was that the problem was either ignition-related, a cut tire or loss of a cylinder. (It ended up being a dropped cylinder)
02/13/98 Jeff Wins His First IROC Race at Daytona. In his four three previous seasons on the International Race of Champions tour, Jeff Gordon has never managed to capture a win. All that changed on Friday when Jeff piloted his IROC Pontiac Firebird to his first victory. This was the first of four races on the circuit with the other three to be held at the Michigan, Indy and California speedways.
02/12/98 Jeff to Start 29th in the Daytona 500. After leading much of the first of the two Gatorade 125 Qualifying Races, the caution flag was thrown. Jeff opted to pit to make some adjustments to the car. Unfortunately, most of the other drivers did not. Jeff ended up fifteenth in the race giving him the last transfer spot. Sterling Marlin won the first race with Dale Earnhardt taking the second.
02/09/98 Jeff Wins the Driver of the Year ESPY Award. Jeff took time out of his busy Speedweeks schedule to travel to New York for ESPN's ESPY Awards. He was nominated for two awards; Driver of the Year and Dramatic Individual Performance. Micheal Jordan took the Performance award, but Jeff won the other one beating out Alex Zanardi, Craig T. Nelson and Dale Jarrett. Congratulations Jeff!
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