After tying the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series record for consecutive starts, Jeff Gordon would have preferred a more appropriate venue to celebrate the accomplishment.
“Gosh it would have been so much sweeter if I’d been in Victory Lane right now,” Gordon said.
For the record, when the driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet took the green flag in Sunday’s myAFibRisk.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, he matched the 788 consecutive starts recorded by Ricky Rudd.
Gordon’s streak is unbroken from his debut in the Sprint Cup Series, dating to the final race of the 1992 season. Assuming he starts next Sunday’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Gordon will take sole possession of the mark.
In Sunday’s opening Chase race at Chicagoland, Gordon led 41 laps and had a car capable of winning. He was running second when the sixth caution slowed the event on Lap 257 of 267.
Gordon stayed out on old tires and got buried on the subsequent restart on Lap 263. Denny Hamlin, also on old rubber, found an opening on that same restart and won the race.
“Got a pretty decent start, and I was blocking him (Hamlin), and he was pushing me down on the apron. I just came up a little too early off the apron to get to the turn, and he was able to squeeze in there.
“Great job to him. I’m pretty frustrated that that caution came out, and that we didn’t capitalize on that last restart, but I’m highly encouraged by how great our car was today.”
Though he dropped to 14th at the finish, Gordon can look ahead with anticipation to the rest of the Chase.
“It’s the best I’ve run all year long—I’ll be honest,” he said.