DARLINGTON, S.C. – When the green flag waves on Saturday night at Darlington Raceway, Jeff Gordon will become the 16th driver to make 700 career starts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. In 699 previous attempts, Gordon has won four championships, three Daytona 500s and 87 career races. The third Saturday night race of the year is scheduled to begin at 6:45 p.m. ET (FOX, MRN).
Here are some of Jeff Gordon's career highlights:
700th START: With his 700th Cup start, Gordon will tie Buddy Baker for 15th on the all-time list. Gordon's starts are consecutive, and the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet SS only trails Ricky Rudd (788 starts) on that all-time list. Click here to learn what his Hendrick Motorsports teammates have to say about his milestone.
CAREER BESTS: Gordon has visited Victory Lane a career-best seven times at Darlington and Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. He recorded one of those Darlington wins during the 1998 season when he posted a career-best 13 victories in 1998. Gordon remains tied with Hall of Famer Richard Petty (13 wins in 1975) for the most single-season wins in the modern era.
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS MILESTONES: Gordon scored Hendrick Motorsports' 50th and 100th Cup wins in 1996 and 2001. He earned the organization's 50th victory at Darlington on March 24, 1996, and followed up that milestone win with another momentous trip to Victory Lane five years later at Michigan International Speedway on June 10, 2001.
FASTEST TO 50: Gordon needed 232 attempts to record his 50th career Sprint Cup victory and eclipse Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip by 46 starts to become the fastest driver to reach the 50-win mark. Gordon's historic victory occurred at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on April 16, 2000.
FOUR-TIME: Gordon is one of four drivers to have won multiple championships in the Sprint Cup Series. Gordon's four championships (1995, 1997, 1998 and 2001) place him fourth on the all-time list. Petty and Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Sr. have seven apiece, while Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson has five.
YOUNG GUN: Gordon, at 24 years and 100 days old, became the youngest Cup champion in NASCAR's modern era when he won the 1995 title. Gordon recorded seven wins, 17 top-five finishes and 23 top-10 finishes en route to his first of four championships.
IN THE RANKINGS: Gordon leads active drivers with 87 wins and ranks third on the all-time list behind Petty (200) and David Pearson (105). Gordon also ranks first among active, full-time drivers with 299 top-five finishes and 416 top-10s. He ranks fourth in both categories all-time. Gordon has won at every active Cup track but one – Kentucky Speedway.
STARTING ON THE POLE: With 72 pole positions, Gordon ranks first among active drivers and third all-time behind Petty (123) and Pearson (113). Gordon has won at least one pole position in each of the last 20 seasons and has converted 19 of these starts into victories.
DAYTONA 500: Gordon's three Daytona 500 victories (1997, 1999 and 2005) tie him for third with Dale Jarrett and Bobby Allison on the all-time list. Notably in 1997, Gordon led Hendrick Motorsports' one-two-three finish in The Great American Race. Then age 25, Gordon held the distinction of being the youngest driver to win the Daytona 500 until 2011, when 20 year-old Trevor Bayne won.
ALL-TIME LEADER: Gordon ranks first on the all-time wins list at road courses and restrictor-plate tracks. He has gone to Victory Lane a combined nine times on the road courses of Sonoma (five) and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International (four) and 12 times on the restrictor-plate tracks of Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.
FIRST IN THE FIRST: Gordon has gone to Victory Lane in the inaugural race at three tracks. In 1994, Gordon won the first Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after qualifying third and leading 93 laps. In 1997, Gordon led 113 laps and brought home the checkered flag in the first race on the two-mile oval in Fontana, Calif. Most recently, Gordon won the first race at Kansas Speedway in 2001.
FIRST CUP RUN: On Nov. 15, 1992, Gordon made his Sprint Cup Series debut, while Petty made his Sprint Cup finale. Gordon started the 328-lap event from the 21st position at the Atlanta Motor Speedway but was sidelined due to an incident. He was credited with a 31st-place finish.