Gordon surpasses Earnhardt with Talladega win

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-117812493727534.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of www.nascar.com‘, ‘Jeff Gordon celebrates April 29 after his victory at Talladega Superspeedway. Gordon’s 77th victory moved him into fifth place on NASCAR’s career victory list, surpassing the late Dale Earnhardt.‘);

Jeff Gordon won a Nextel Cup race for the second week in a row April 29. This is the 77th victory of Gordon’s career, and moves him into fifth place on NASCAR’s career victory list, surpassing the legendary Dale Earnhardt.

Gordon’s 77th victory came at Talladega Superspeedway, a track at which Earnhardt had dominated most of his career. “The Intimidator,” as Earnhardt was known, won 10 races at Talladega during his 27-year career, which was cut short in 2001, when he was killed during a last-lap crash during the Daytona 500.

Gordon’s victory at Talladega was his fifth at the track in his 16-year career, which puts him in a second-place tie with Dale Earnhardt Jr. for most wins at the track.

Last weekend, April 21, Gordon tied Earnhardt for sixth place in career victories. Gordon is now alone in fifth place, six wins behind CaleYarborough for fourth place and seven wins behind Dale Waltrip and Bobby Allison, who are tied for third with 84 victories.

Gordon is on a roll, and has a good chance of overtaking those drivers for third place on the list. Gordon would have to double his season average of 3.5 wins to move into third this season. Most likely, it would come next year during the 2008 season.

David Pearson is second on the all-time list with 105 victories, a record that will probably remain intact. Gordon has said he doesn’t see himself racing long enough to reach that milestone. He recently said: “This sport is changing, and with fatherhood around the corner, I don’t think I want to be at that competitive level—or be out there and not be competitive—at that age.”

Gordon and his wife are expecting their first child sometime this summer.

Richard Petty is the all-time leader with 200 victories. There are some records in sports people say will never be broken. Petty’s 200-win mark is definitely one of those.

The Nextel Cup series is in Richmond, Va., for another Saturday night race May 5. Crown Royal presents the Jim Stewart 400 at the Richmond International Raceway. Can Gordon make it three in a row? To find out, tune in to FOX 39 beginning at 6 p.m.

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.

from the May 2-8, 2007, issue

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