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Gordon will roll with drought over

Like a space shuttle mission placed on hold during a prolonged stretch of bad weather, Jeff Gordon's assault on NASCAR's record books took a temporary, albeit extended hiatus of 47 races, a dry spell that ended Sunday with a victory in the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Eventually, though, there's a break in the weather, and the shuttle takes off, just as Gordon's #24 Chevrolet did Sunday. Not only did Gordon break the longest drought of his career, he did it a track that had frustrated him in his 16 previous starts there.

With victory in hand, not to mention a comfortable lead in the Sprint Cup championship standings, Gordon can look ahead toward milestones that will define in detail his Hall of Fame career.

With 82 victories, Gordon stands head and shoulders above the next most prolific active driver, Bill Elliott, who has 44 wins. Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson is third with 41, driving a car in which Gordon has a minority ownership.

One more win and Gordon will tie Cale Yarborough for fifth on the all-time list. Two more, and he'll tie Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip for third. Three more, and only Richard Petty's unassailable mark of 200 victories and David Pearson's formidable 105 will be ahead of him.

Gordon's resurgence isn't an accident. During the offseason, he made sure he and crew chief Steve Letarte were on the same page as the 2009 season approached.

During Gordon barren 2008 season, no other crew chief in the Cup garage was vilified by outsiders as roundly as Letarte was for Gordon's struggles, even as Gordon stood staunchly by his man. But Letarte didn't take a refresher course in crew chief school, as Waltrip blithely suggested on the Fox telecast of Sunday's race. His efforts and Gordon's simply have begun to bear fruit.

“I feel like we had some missed opportunities last season, even as we didn't have a great year,” Gordon said after celebrating his win in victory lane. “But there were still times we could have won. And so that just keeps you driving and driving hard and pushing forward.

“At the end of this season, I wrote Steve an e-mail, and we talked a lot. And I just saw the progress that was being made in the final 10 races (of 2008) with how Steve's restructuring the engineering and the team and his efforts.



Related Pictures

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Jeff Gordon celebrates his first win at Texas Motors Speedway - and the end of a 47-race winless streak   [pic credit: NASCAR/Getty]
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS, races to an eighth place finish with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS who finished in second place Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet SS, stops in his pit on his way to a fifth place finish Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. Elliott takes over the #24 car from retired driver Jeff Gordon.  (Photo by Ashley R Dickerson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, races to a fourth place finish Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 as Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage (L) and John Godwin of Duck Commander (R) look on at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, leads the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 7, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 8, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 8, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates with the chequered flag after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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El Bigonio - Unregistered

April 14, 2009 11:13 PM

Good to see him get the monkey off his back. I would love to see him catch David Pearson's record before he retires. No one can catch Petty just because of the sheer number of races he ran back in the old days but David Pearsons 105 is still within reach. :)

24's#1 Fan Den. F - Unregistered

April 09, 2009 12:12 AM

Jeff's Got Something to prove this year and he will!I will be Hear every time Jeff Wins So Ya'll will Be Seeing Alot Of Me! He And Steve Latarte Have Got It togeather now, and the writer of this article and I both can see whats coming Its going to be GOOD!!



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