March 28, 1999. That was the day I had the opportunity to go to my first, at that particular time, Winston Cup race. I had watched racing, but had never had an opportunity to attend a race of this magnitude. Even today, I could not tell you how I became a Jeff Gordon fan, but I was.
Strange day that was. I had purchased tickets on the backstretch for the race, and was going with my brother in law Scott. I am not sure, but that might have been Scott’s first big time race as well. Somehow we found a guy selling tickets in the parking lot that sold us the seats on the front stretch we sat in. Gave us face value for the tickets we had, and only wanted the difference in value of the tickets. Later found out the guy worked for Albertsons (Grocery Store Chain), who had no intention of using his free tickets to attend the race. He was simply there to make some money.
I had never seen so many people in one spot. If memory serves me right, at least 200,000+ at the track when totaled that day.
It is only fitting to my sports loyalties, the soon to be retiring Jeff Gordon finished 43 that day. Last place in case you are not aware of the number of cars that start in a NASCAR Cup race. Lap 71 coming through turn four and into the wall. Passenger side of the car damaged beyond repair. I remember a bit after the wreck, the hauler leaving the infield as the race was running. Gordon was still the young punk back then, therefore many people waved and cheered as the hauler departed. 1999 was Jeff Gordon’s seventh full time season in the series, and the first race I attended was his first 43rd place finish.
That 43rd place finish at Texas would define Gordon’s performance when I attended future races.Since that day in March of 1999, I have attended 67 Cup races to see my favorite driver complete. Here is a break down of Gordon’s performance when I am in attendance:
Overall not too bad, but only two wins. Both times I have seen Gordon win a race have come at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Every other track I have been to, Gordon has won at, at some point in his career. For those unaware, the only active track Gordon has not won on in the Cup Series is Kentucky.
It seems fitting to me that today (November 1, 2015) that Gordon has punched his ticket to an opportunity to win the 2015 Sprint Cup Championship with his 93rd career win coming at Martinsville. Very early this upcoming Saturday morning, I will hit the road with my family to travel back to the spot where it started it all for me. Next Sunday, I will see my favorite racer take the green flag for the last time at Texas Motor Speedway.
A couple of weeks ago at Kansas, it really hit me that it would be the next to last time I would see Gordon race. I had so many emotions and it was very difficult at the start of the Kansas race to hold them back. Even today when Gordon won, it was hard for me to keep from having tears roll down my face. I honestly had some shaking, and just could not believe that we got the victory today.
Sunday will be hard for me to see Gordon head off into the unknown at Texas Motor Speedway for one more time, and the last time I will get to see him set sail in person. Win, lose, or wreck, it has been an incredible journey every time I have been fortunate enough to see Jeff Gordon take the wheel on the track.
I leave you all with this, a list of the Cup races I have attended, and their winners, and where Jeff finished. Included as well are some pictures I have captured over the years of Jeff, his car, as well as some moments included of me with my Jeff Gordon gear.
Oh, one side note, 2000 I was in attendance for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s first Cup win at Texas. Strangely enough, I have never seen him win since.
|1999||Texas Motor Speedway||Terry Labonte||43|
|2000||Texas Motor Speedway||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||25|
|2000||Phoenix International Raceway||Jeff Burton||7|
|2001||Texas Motor Speedway||Dale Jarrett||5|
|2001||Phoenix International Raceway||Jeff Burton||6|
|2002||Texas Motor Speedway||Matt Kenseth||2|
|2002||Indianapolis Motor Speedway||Bill Elliot||6|
|2003||Texas Motor Speedway||Ryan Newman||3|
|2003||Indianapolis Motor Speedway||Kevin Harvick||4|
|2004||Texas Motor Speedway||Elliot Sadler||3|
|2004||Spring||Dover International Speedway||Mark Martin||36|
|2004||Indianapolis Motor Speedway||Jeff Gordon||1|
|2005||Spring||Texas Motor Speedway||Greg Biffle||15|
|2005||Spring||Dover International Speedway||Greg Biffle||39|
|2005||Indianapolis Motor Speedway||Tony Stewart||8|
|2005||Fall||Texas Motor Speedway||Carl Edwards||14|
|2006||Spring||Atlanta Motor Speedway||Kasey Kahne||4|
|2006||Spring||Texas Motor Speedway||Kasey Kahne||22|
|2006||Spring||Dover International Raceway||Matt Kenseth||12|
|2006||Indianapolis Motor Speedway||Jimmie Johnson||16|
|2006||Charlotte Motor Speedway||Kasey Kahne||24|
|2007||Spring||Atlanta Motor Speedway||Jimmie Johnson||12|
|2007||Spring||Bristol Motor Speedway||Kyle Busch||3|
|2007||Spring||Dover International Speedway||Martin Truex Jr.||9|
|2007||Indianapolis Motor Speedway||Tony Stewart||3|
|2007||Fall||Bristol Motor Speedway||Carl Edwards||19|
|2008||Spring||Atlanta Motor Speedway||Kyle Busch||5|
|2008||Spring||Bristol Motor Speedway||Jeff Burton||11|
|2008||Spring||Dover International Speedway||Kyle Busch||5|
|2008||Indianapolis Motor Speedway||Jimmie Johnson||5|
|2008||Fall||Texas Motor Speedway||Carl Edwards||2|
|2009||Spring||Bristol Motor Speedway||Kyle Busch||4|
|2009||Spring||Dover International Speedway||Jimmie Johnson||26|
|2009||Indianapolis Motor Speedway||Jimmie Johnson||9|
|2009||Fall||Bristol Motor Speedway||Kyle Busch||23|
|2009||Fall||Texas Motor Speedway||Kurt Busch||13|
|2010||Spring||Bristol Motor Speedway||Jimmie Johnson||14|
|2010||Spring||Dover International Speedway||Kyle Busch||14|
|2010||Indianapolis Motor Speedway||Jamie McMurray||23|
|2010||Fall||Bristol Motor Speedway||Kyle Busch||11|
|2011||Spring||Bristol Motor Speedway||Kyle Busch||14|
|2011||Indianapolis Motor Speedway||Paul Menard||2|
|2011||Fall||Bristol Motor Speedway||Brad Kesolowski||3|
|2011||Chicagoland Speedway||Tony Stewart||24|
|2011||Fall||Texas Motor Speedway||Tony Stewart||6|
|2012||Spring||Bristol Motor Speedway||Brad Kesolowski||35|
|2012||Indianapolis Motor Speedway||Jimmie Johnson||5|
|2012||Fall||Bristol Motor Speedway||Denny Hamlin||3|
|2012||Chicagoland Speedway||Brad Kesolowski||35|
|2012||Fall||Talladega SuperSpeedway||Matt Kenseth||2|
|2013||Spring||Bristol Motor Speedway||Kasey Kahne||34|
|2013||Spring||Talladega SuperSpeedway||David Ragan||11|
|2013||Indianapolis Motor Speedway||Ryan Newman||7|
|2013||Fall||Bristol Motor Speedway||Matt Kenseth||7|
|2013||Chicagoland Speedway||Matt Kenseth||6|
|2014||Spring||Bristol Motor Speedway||Carl Edwards||7|
|2014||Spring||Michigan International Speedway||Jimmie Johnson||6|
|2014||Indianapolis Motor Speedway||Jeff Gordon||1|
|2014||Fall||Bristol Motor Speedway||Joey Logano||16|
|2014||Chicagoland Speedway||Brad Kesolowski||2|
|2014||Fall||Kansas Speedway||Joey Logano||14|
|2015||Spring||Bristol Motor Speedway||Matt Kenseth||3|
|2015||Spring||Michigan International Speedway||Kurt Busch||21|
|2015||Indianapolis Motor Speedway||Kyle Busch||42|
|2015||Fall||Bristol Motor Speedway||Joey Logano||20|
|2015||Chicagoland Speedway||Denny Hamlin||14|
|2015||Fall||Kansas Speedway||Joey Logano||10|
|2015||Fall||Texas Motor Speedway||?|
Here are the wins by percentage of races I have attended:
|Dale Earnhardt Jr.||1||1.49%|
|Martin Truex Jr.||1||1.49%|