Gordon’s Bonus Points Add Up
- Sep 17, 2002
- 24 Team
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Sept. 17, 2002)—After winning four NASCAR Winston Cup Series championships in nine seasons, Jeff Gordon knows the importance of not just leading one lap but leading a lot of them.
In Winston Cup, five bonus points are given to a driver who leads a lap and five are given to the driver who leads the most laps. Gordon scored the most bonus points in three out of his four championship seasons—1995, 1998 and 2001.
Bonus points played the biggest role in 1995 when Gordon won his first Winston Cup title over the late Dale Earnhardt by 34 points. That year, Gordon had a total of 200 in 31 events compared to Earnhardt’s 140.
After 27 events last season, Gordon had the most bonus points with 155, 60 more than any other driver. Following the 27th event of 2002, he has only 70. Out of the top five in the Winston Cup point standings, leader Mark Martin has the least amount of bonus points with 50 and fourth place Tony Stewart has the most with 85.
“After 36 races, five points here and there really add up,” said Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet. “You can gain a whole race worth of points just by leading laps over the course of the season.
“With the point standings as tight as they are this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if the championship was decided by who leads the most laps at Homestead (the last event of the season).”
After leading the most laps and winning back-to-back races at Bristol and Darlington, therefore gaining the most possible points, Gordon closed to within 91 points of then Winston Cup points leader Sterling Marlin heading into Richmond, Va.
Marlin was involved in an accident after just eight laps and finished 43rd. However, Gordon was unable to capitalize when his camshaft belt snapped, ending his day prematurely and relegating him to 40th. At New Hampshire this past weekend, Gordon finished 14th in a rain-shortened race. But Marlin finished 21st, opening the door for Mark Martin to take over the points lead.
Despite the disappointing finishes and falling from second to fifth in the standings, Gordon managed to close the gap on the points lead. He trails current leader Mark Martin by 67 points.
“We’ve had a mixture of good and bad luck lately,” said Gordon. “We could have really taken a hit in the points the last two weeks but circumstance has prevented that from happening.”
With four wins and 13 top-10s in 19 starts, Dover (Del.) International Speedway is a welcome sight for Gordon who feels confident he can gain even more ground this weekend.
“We kind of view Dover as ‘Old Faithful,’” said Gordon. “Not only is it DuPont’s home track, but every time we come here we seem to run well and lead a lot of laps.”
Gordon has led the most laps five times at Dover, most notably last June when he led 381 of 400 laps.
“That was a statement performance in our championship run last year,” said Gordon. “It’s something I would like to duplicate again.
“It may sound simple, but the best way to win championships is to get the most possible points. The way you do that is by winning and leading lots of laps, so to me it’s plain as day what we need to do.”