LASTCAR’s Brock Beard pens his own history of the NASCAR Cup Series from the perspective of the series’ last-place finishers, providing detailed analysis of every season run from 1949 through 2013. Each article includes career snapshots of each and every LASTCAR Cup Series Champion, featuring more than one hundred pages of never-before-published statistics on some of the most important moments in LASTCAR history. Includes a full introduction by the author.
SEASON IN REVIEW
Pittsboro, Indiana driver Jeff Gordon scored his first LASTCAR Cup Series Championship in 1993, scoring two last-place finishes in thirty starts during a thirty-race season. Gordon won a bottom-ten tiebreaker with Bob Schacht, 6-3.
Gordon, perhaps the most well-known LASTCAR Cup Series Champion, was competing in his first full season of Cup Series competition. A standout in several racing divisions, including the NASCAR Nationwide Series where he finished 4th in the 1992 point standings, Gordon finished 31st in his Cup Series debut for owner Rick Hendrick at Hampton, Georgia on November 15, 1992. In 1993, Gordon and his rainbow-hued #24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Chevrolet burst onto the scene in dramatic style with a win in his Gatorade Twin 125-mile Qualifier at Daytona Beach, Florida, followed by a 5th-place finish in the Daytona 500. In the end, Gordon finished 14th in points, scoring seven Top Fives, eleven Top Tens, and his first career pole in Concord, North Carolina.
So, how did Gordon win the LASTCAR Cup Series Championship?
In the same thirty starts during the 1993 season, Gordon racked-up eleven DNFs, dragging his average finish down to 17.7. His two last-place finishes came in a season sweep of both races at North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. In the First Union 400 on April 18, Gordon started 7th, but wrecked in turn one on Lap 26, taking him out of the race. On October 3, trouble found him on the opening lap of the Tyson / Holly Farms 400. That day, outside-polesitter Ricky Rudd jumped the start and throttled back, which caused the entire outside line to accordion in a seven-car pileup. Gordon, in the 16th spot, had nowhere to go. Though he returned to the track to complete 117 laps, handling woes stopped his advance and he wound up in last place.
The rest of Gordon's career is well-known. As of this writing, he has scored four NASCAR Cup Series Championships and eight-seven wins - including the final Cup race run (for now) at North Wilkesboro on September 29, 1996 - putting him third on the all-time list behind Richard Petty and David Pearson. As of this writing, Jeff Gordon is not only the winningest LASTCAR Cup Series Champion, but the only driver to ever score both a NASCAR and LASTCAR Cup Series Championship.
Through the 2012 season, Gordon has finished last in just three other Cup Series races. The first of those three came on March 9, 1997 in the PRIMESTAR 500, the final race run on the old 1.522-mile configuration at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia when he lost the engine after 59 laps. The other two came at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas: the Primestar 500 on March 28, 1999 where he crashed after 68 laps, and the Samsung 500 on April 6, 2008, where damage from an earlier wreck ended his run at 124 laps. Gordon went on to win the 2009 running of the event, his first at the Texas track.
About Brock Beard
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Published November 27, 2013
by Brock Beard.
Education & Reference, Sports & Outdoors.