CONCORD, N.C. (April 26, 2006) - With a win in Sunday’s Aaron’s 499, Jeff Gordon will accomplish something that hasn’t been done in more than 30 years: Three consecutive NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series victories in the spring event at Talladega Superspeedway.
The feat would match David Pearson’s three-year string of first-place efforts at the 2.66-mile high-banked tri-oval. From 1972-74, “The Silver Fox” owned the annual spring Cup Series race, starting no worse than second and leading 228 total laps on his way to a three-for-three record.
Gordon, who will drive a special No. 24 DuPont/Pepsi Chevrolet on Sunday, is certainly no slouch himself. Since 2000, the four-time NEXTEL Cup champion has posted a trio of wins, including the last two, in his spring appearances at the Alabama track. He’s led five of those six races for a total of 215 laps.
Last May, Gordon started from the outside pole position and paced 139 of 194 laps on his way to Talladega’s Victory Lane. The performance was nearly identical to Pearson’s May 1973 triumph, in which he started second and led 111 of 188 circuits en route to his second win of the spring “Talladega Trifecta.”
“David Pearson is one of the true legends of our sport and it’s an honor just to be mentioned with him,” said Gordon, who has posted four of his 73 career Cup victories at Talladega. “It’s a tribute to the consistency of our restrictor-plate program at Hendrick Motorsports. The effort has been incredible and just continues to improve with each race.”
But, Gordon says, it doesn’t come down solely to hard work when Talladega pops up on the NEXTEL Cup schedule. According to him, there’s also some luck sprinkled in with the team’s success.
“Twice a year, Pepsi partners with DuPont on a paint scheme and it always seems to bring good fortune to the No. 24 team,” Gordon said. “We won with it twice in 2004, including the Pepsi 400, and once last year. You need a little luck on your side to be successful at Talladega and I guess this car design is our rabbit’s foot.”
The machine that will carry Gordon’s lucky paint scheme is Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 367, a nearly identical car to the now-retired No. 24 Chevy that won the 2005 Daytona 500. It has been driven only once—earlier this season at Daytona International Speedway, where it qualified on the outside pole.
“The car we’re taking this weekend is incredible,” Gordon said. “It was great at Daytona, but we had a problem that kept us from making a run at the win. We were excited for Jimmie (Johnson), but wanted to be up there battling with him. I think we’ll have an opportunity to make up for it Sunday.”