The “AAA 400” NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 4, marks the end of an era for Monster Mile fans.
Jeff Gordon, a five-time Dover Cup race winner, four-time Cup Series champion and owner of 92 Cup race victories overall, will participate in his final race on the 1-mile, high-banked, concrete oval as a full-time Cup driver.
Since Gordon’s debut race in November 1992 at Atlanta – which also marked the final career appearance for seven-time Cup champion Richard Petty – the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports has secured a place among the legends of motorsports.
The connection with Dover fans began early, as Delaware chemical giant DuPont served as the primary sponsor of Gordon’s No. 24 car for several seasons. The iconic multi-colored paint job on both his Chevrolet and the fire suits of the No. 24 team’s pit crew led to their designation as the “Rainbow Warriors.”
“We still consider him our hometown favorite due to his long-time relationship with Delaware-based DuPont,” said Denis McGlynn, CEO of Dover Motorsports, Inc. “He was and is a great champion, and he’s earned every bit of the respect he enjoys today.”
The accumulated numbers are staggering for the 44-year-old Vallejo, Calif., native. Entering the Sunday, Sept. 6 Sprint Cup event in Darlington, S.C., Gordon has finished in the top 10 in more than 59 percent of his career starts (466 of 785). His 92 victories rank third on NASCAR’s all-time Cup chart behind Petty and David Pearson and are the most in the sport’s modern era (1972 to the present).
At Dover alone, Gordon has racked up 26 top 10 finishes in 45 Cup starts, earned four pole positions and led 2,389 laps. To date, his most recent Cup victory came at the Monster Mile, at the Sept. 28, 2014, “AAA 400.”
In the 2015 season, Gordon earned a slot in the 16-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff. Gordon has 13 top-10 finishes in 27 races, but is still looking for his first victory of the season.
Thousands of Gordon supporters are hoping that elusive triumph comes on Oct. 4 at the Monster Mile, where generations of NASCAR fans have followed the No. 24 Chevrolet since its Dover debut in 1993.
After ending his full-time racing career, Gordon is planning to join Fox Sports as a race analyst during its TV broadcasts of the 2016 season. But first, Gordon has several more stops to make across the country in his farewell tour.
“I really think the second half of the season, when I start going to the tracks for the last time, I think [retirement] will start to sink in a little bit more,” Gordon said earlier this summer at the Monster Mile. “I’m very appreciative of the tracks and the interactions with the fans that I’ve had and a lot of the things they have done or said or shown me through signs and support already.”
Jeff Gordon Career Statistics
Birthday: Aug. 4, 1971
Hometown: Vallejo, Calif.
Rookie Year: 1992
Current Crew Chief: Alan Gustafson
Sprint Cup Series Championships: 4 (1995, 1997, 1998, 2001)
Daytona 500 wins: 3 (1997, 1999, 2005)
Brickyard 400 wins: 5 (1994, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2014)
Sprint All-Star Race wins: 3 (1995, 1997, 2001)
Gordon at Dover International Speedway
Laps completed: 17,989 of 18,909
Laps led: 2,389
Average start: 11.9
Top 5 finishes: 18
Top 10 finishes: 26
Average finish: 11.4
NASCAR Sprint Cup Career
Laps Completed: 225,833
Top 5 finishes: 323
Top 10 finishes: 467