The Callahan Report: Gordon Moves Closer To Record With New Hampshire Win
15 September 1997LOUDON, NH: Richard Petty holds the modern day record for the most wins in a single NASCAR Winston Cup season (13 wins in 1975). Jeff Gordon has the numbers on his side to tie Richard Petty's record. The NASCAR Winston Cup series has ran twenty-five races so far this season. Jeff Gordon has won forty percent of those races (ten victories). If Gordon stays on this pace with seven races remaining on the schedule, he should win three of them (O.K. ... 2.8 to be exact.) Gordon took one step closer to matching the record by winning the CMT 300 at Loudon, NH this afternoon.
Gordon put his Dupont Chevy Monte Carlo in the race with a disappointing 13th qualifying spot. The 1995 series champion has learned patience in his short NASCAR career. Gordon slowly moved through the traffic on the low groove. One lap before the halfway point, Gordon moved into the lead. He stayed in the top pack the rest of the day with some valuable coaching from crew chief Ray Evernham.
On lap 227 of the 300 lap event, Hut Stricklin crashed in turn two. The parade to the pits began. Evernham made the call for gas only for Gordon's car. While other top contenders like Ernie Irvan spent extra time taking on new tires, Gordon was out in a .... well ..... flash. Gordon exited the pits in the lead. He stayed there until the checkered flag fell.
Gordon gave credit to Evernham. "If we had taken tires this time, we definitely wouldn't have gotten out first and it might have been a different story. My car handled the best out front. It was definitely a great call."
Evernham, returning the credit to Gordon said, "I felt like the only way we could beat Ernie was if we got track position and hope we could snooker them somehow. And I know my little buddy here has got a ton of talent and we can lean on that sometimes."
Second place finisher Ernie Irvan overcame what started out to be a dreadful weekend. Irvan took a provisional spot to get into the race. Things got worse as Irvan was ill in the morning. He missed the mandatory drivers meeting and was forced to start the race dead last. Irvan passed more cars than any driver at the New Hampshire International Speedway. He led much of the second half of the race.
Early race leader and local favorite Ricky Craven looked better than he had since the Daytona 500 in February. Craven was strong, leading ninety-one laps of the three hundred lap event. Craven stayed close all day. He finished fifth. Bobby Hamilton and Steve Grissom were third and fourth respectively.
Gordon lengthened his points lead to 139 over Mark Martin. Dale Jarrett is 188 points behind the leader. Jeff Burton is 332 behind. The winner's check was $188,625.
Final results with starting position (), hometown, car model, and laps completed:
1. (13) Jeff Gordon, Pittsboro, Ind., Chevrolet, 300
2. (40) Ernie Irvan, Salinas, Calif., Ford, 300
3. (2) Bobby Hamilton, Nashville, Tenn., Pontiac, 300
4. (23) Steve Grissom, Gadsden, Ala., Chevrolet, 300
5. (6) Ricky Craven, Newburgh, Maine, Chevrolet, 300
6. (19) Dale Jarrett, Hickory, N.C., Ford, 300
7. (16) Jimmy Spencer, Berwick, Pa., Ford, 300
8. (30) Dale Earnhardt, Kannapolis, N.C., Chevrolet, 300
9. (17) Mark Martin, Batesville, Ark., Ford, 300
10. (25) Hut Stricklin, Calera, Ala., Ford, 300
11. (10) Bill Elliott, Dawsonville, Ga., Ford, 300
12. (11) Kyle Petty, Randleman, N.C., Pontiac, 300
13. (29) Joe Nemechek, Lakeland, Fla., Chevrolet, 300
14. (39) Jeff Burton, South Boston, Va., Ford, 300
15. (12) Bobby Labonte, Corpus Christi, Texas, Pontiac, 300
16. (14) Geoff Bodine, Chemung, N.Y., Ford, 300
17. (5) John Andretti, Indianapolis, Ford, 300
18. (9) Lake Speed, Jackson, Miss., Ford, 300
19. (20) Johnny Benson, Grand Rapids, Mich., Pontiac, 300
20. (7) Rick Mast, Lexington, Va., Ford, 300
21. (33) Rusty Wallace, St. Louis, Ford, 299, crash
22. (28) Dick Trickle, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., Ford, 299
23. (35) Ward Burton, South Boston, Va., Pontiac, 299
24. (26) Robby Gordon, Cerritos, Calif., Chevrolet, 299
25. (27) Jeremy Mayfield, Owensboro, Ky., Ford, 299
26. (24) Derrike Cope, Spanaway, Wash., Pontiac, 299
27. (34) Kenny Wallace, St. Louis, Ford, 298
28. (38) Chad Little, Spokane, Wash., Pontiac, 298
29. (32) Dave Marcis, Wausau, Wis., Chevrolet, 298
30. (21) Ted Musgrave, Franklin, Wis., Ford, 297
31. (8) Wally Dallenbach, Basalt, Colo., Chevrolet, 297
32. (15) Darrell Waltrip, Franklin, Tenn., Chevrolet, 297
33. (3) Brett Bodine, Chemung, N.Y., Ford, 295
34. (31) Gary Bradberry, Chelsea, Ala., Ford, 295
35. (4) Mike Skinner, Susanville, Calif., Chevrolet, 295
36. (22) Michael Waltrip, Owensboro, Ky., Ford, 292
37. (1) Ken Schrader, Fenton, Mo., Chevrolet, 291
38. (36) Jeff Green, Whitehouse, Tenn., Chevrolet, 287
39. (41) Sterling Marlin, Columbia, Tenn., Chevrolet, 282
40. (18) David Green, Owensboro, Ky., Chevrolet, 274
41. (43) Terry Labonte, Corpus Christi, Texas, Chevrolet, 264
42. (37) Ricky Rudd, Chesapeake, Va., Ford, 233, crash
43. (42) Robert Pressley, Asheville, N.C., Ford, 185, crash