Crunching The Numbers: Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon – #24 Hendrick Motorsports Drive to End Hunger/3M/Axalta Coating Systems Chevrolet

2015 NASCAR Champions Week Awards Banquet

Gordon with his wife, Ingrid, and children, Ella & Leo, at the 2015 NASCAR Banquet in Las Vegas

Standings: 3rd

Points: 1,109

Bonus Points: 18

  • 10.00% of total possible bonus points

Starts: 36
Wins: 1
Poles: 4
DNFs: 1
Top 5s: 5
Top 10s: 21
Top 15s: 25

JG1

Gordon 3

Best Finish: 1st (Race 33: Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 – Martinsville)

Best Start: 1st – 4 Times

  • Race 1: Daytona 500
  • Race 3: Kobalt Tools 400 –Last Vegas
  • Race 10: Geico 500 – Talladega
  • Race 32: Campingworld.com 500 – Talladega

Average Finish: 13.69 (11th best)

Average Start: 11.81 (9th best)

 

Jeff Gordon's Finishes

Jeff Gordon’s Finishes

Laps Run: 10,292 (5th most)

  • 98.72% of total possible season laps

Miles Driven: 13,566 (9th most)

  • 98.15% of total possible miles

Laps Led: 265 (12th most)

  • 2.54% of total possible season laps
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2015 – Bristol

August 1996; Brooklyn, MI, USA: FILE PHOTO; NASCAR driver (24) Jeff Gordon racing against (3) Dale Earnhardt Sr. at the Michigan International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Brain Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports © Copyright Brian Spurlock

1996 – Michigan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeffrey Michael Gordon – born August 4, 1971 in Vallejo, CA. 4 NASCAR championships, 93 career victories, 81 poles, 475 top 10 finishes, 1 car, 1 team, 1 owner, and all in 797 consecutive starts. These are the numbers of a hall of fame driver; a hall of fame driver who’s name will appear on the ballot and it will be a no brainier for those voting. When his career began all 23 years ago (full time), he was breaking the mold of what it mean to be a NASCAR driver. He did not come from the south but from the west coast. He did not have that southern twang or style, but an articulated tone. Jeff Gordon was setting a tone for a new breed of NASCAR drivers to make their way into the sport. While his initial years in the sport drew more haters than fans, eventually that tone changed. From being the California Kid to the sport’s best driver, Gordon established himself as a true racer and brought a new generation to the sport. I should know, I was one of those fans he brought to the sport.

2015 – the final season Jeff Gordon will be driving the #24. It has been some years since great drivers hung up their helmets, but something seemed different about this one. This man has brought so much to the sport, you almost cannot describe all the good he has done; and don’t even get me started on what he has done for people outside of NASCAR. Gordon has a huge heart and is leaving behind a spot that will never be filled again. As the season began in Daytona, I think all NASCAR fans were hoping he could get it done one last time. Gordon fans everywhere wanted 1 more Daytona 500; non-Gordon fans found themselves rooting (either loudly or quietly) for a great day for Gordon. I am pretty sure Gordon had no haters this season. The exhibition races in Daytona at the start of the season went rather well for Gordon, not to mention he had already qualified on the pole for his final Daytona 500. Things were looking great for Gordon already in his final season. His final Daytona 500 finish was not what he was hoping for, a sub 30th place finish, and the following weekend at Atlanta he found himself in an even deeper hole with his only DNF of the season. Two bad races back to back is hard to dig yourself out of, especially in this era of the Chase, but Gordon was still enjoying his job and was not going to accept defeat, let alone accept defeat at this early stage in the game. He quickly began to find some rhythm for the season and the finishes improved and he slowly climbed the points standings, working towards a spot in the Chase while still looking for a victory.

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The regular season was full of ups and downs for Gordon, especially at tracks where his records are some of the best, if not the best. Going to what he considered his home track of Indianapolis, Gordon was hoping to break more records with a 6th Brickyard 400 trophy. Sadly, that was not meant to be as an accident ended Gordon’s chances at victory. Even though he was out of contention for victory, Gordon avoided another DNF. 2 weeks later at another track where Gordon succeeds, Watkin Glen, Gordon found himself in trouble once again. After qualifying 5th and setting quick paces in practice sessions, Gordon found himself with brake issues. These issues are not something any driver wants as they are fighting to get into the top 16 and a shot at a championship. Even though his season had not panned out well thus far, his average finish of 16.04 was enough to earn him a spot in the Chase based on points. The question now was could Gordon and the 24 team pick up the pace and show they are capable of contending for a title for the final time.

Enter the Challenger Round where Jeff Gordon has found victory lane at all 3 venues. He has not won yet this season, and while winning in not essential in the Chase, it sure is a great benefit to win early on and focus on the next few weeks heading into the next round. 3 top 15 finishes and an average finish of 11th, 7th best, provided Gordon with enough momentum to propel him to the next round. Not bringing too much attention to himself, Gordon is hoping to make some more noise in the Contender Round so he can let everyone know he is in the Chase for one thing – to go out at the very top of his game with a trophy. The Contender Round brought the toughest segment of the Chase, but all tracks are good to Gordon. While Joey Logano swept the races, Gordon recorded all top 10 finishes giving him a solid 7th place average finish which was 3rd among the remaining Chasers. Again, Gordon did what he does best and finish strong when it counts the most. His Chase hopes are still alive and the next stop, first stop in the Eliminator Round, is Martinsville.

Gordon 4Martinsville, VA, the track that should be renamed in honor of Jeff Gordon. Gordon has 9 victories at this tight paper clip race track and an average finish of 6.89. When it comes to the Fall race at Martinsville Speedway, Gordon’s average finish is 6.73 which is bolstered by 5 victories, 1 top 5 finishes, and 18 top 10 finishes. What better place could Gordon earn his (final) first win of the season than at the place called Gordonville? Since we are all NASCAR (and Jeff Gordon) fans here, we know how the story ended; that’s right, Jeff Gordon earned his 93rd career victory this weekend and officially became the first driver to punch his ticket to the Final 4 in Homestead. The story book ending for the driver retiring in 3 weeks was just about to come full circle. While his regular season was full of surprises and unknowns, his Chase was looking like an entirely new season. The celebration that took place that evening is one that everyone will remember, especially those at the track who got to celebrate one last time with the legend. Could his final season really end with a championship? Just like the Contender Round, Gordon recorded all top 10 finishes, but the victory was the vital piece to the puzzle. His average finish in the Eliminator Round was 5.33, which in and of itself was enough to push him into the Final 4.

20-22 November, 2015, Homestead, Florida USA Jeff Gordon with Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton © 2015, Nigel Kinrade LAT Photo USA

Mario Andretti, Jeff Gordon, Lewis Hamilton

 

20-22 November, 2015, Homestead, Florida USA Jeff Gordon hugs Rick Hendrick after his final career race ©2015, Brett Moist NKP

Rick Hendrick and Jeff Gordon share a hug after Gordon emerges from his car after his final race.

Homestead-Miami Speedway, a track where Gordon has 1 victory but a solid average finish. While a victory would all but assure him a championship, he just has to finish above 3 other drivers. The race weekend started with a qualifying effort of 5th, so that left not much further to go to get to the front. There was a true media craze around Jeff Gordon the entire weekend, with fans flocking from all over to see Gordon race one last time. Even racing legends Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton were on track just to see Gordon in his last race. This was truly a huge farewell celebration for a true legend of the sport, but Gordon had to complete 400 miles and hope he was the best of the 4 battling for the championship. Gordon finished his final race of the season and the final race of his career in 6th place, and while that is a fantastic finish any of day of the week, it was not enough to declare him the champion of the season. His average Chase finish was 7.60, which was the best of the entire Chase field, and every finish was a top 15. While the story book ending did not happen, there is still no better way to cap off a great career than having a shot at ultimate glory, and while falling short, enjoying every moment on and off the track.

 

Jeff Gordon's Finishes By Track Type

Jeff Gordon’s Finishes By Track Type

 

Type Starts Avg. Finish Avg. Start Wins Top 5s Top 10s Top 15s DNF
Intermediate 14 12.21 12.79 0 1 9 11 1
Restrictor Plate 4 18.25 6.50 0 1 2 2 0
Road Course 2 28.50 5.00 0 0 0 0 0
Short Track 10 8.50 14.30 1 2 8 9 0
Super Speedway 6 17.83 11.17 0 1 2 3 0

 

We all know Jeff Gordon will not be on the track next season, but the 24 car is not going anywhere, nor is Gordon. Chase Elliott will be the new face of the 24 car and Gordon will be the newest face in the Fox broadcasting booth in 2016. A new phase in life is beginning for Gordon and it is a great thing that his fans will still get to see him at the track. Gordon will also still be quite involved at Hendrick Motorsports, where he still has a lifetime contract might I remind you, as he in the owner of Jimmie Johnson’s ride with Rick Hendrick; we can also bet he will serve as a mentor to young Chase Elliott.

We say good bye to Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger/3M/Axalta Coating Systems Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, but we do not say good bye to Jeff Gordon. The next chapter is just starting and as a Jeff Gordon fan since day 1, while I am still sad to see him stepping away, I am happy knowing his presence will still be around for us to see on and off the track.

 

Congratulations Jeff Gordon on a fantastic 2015 season, and more so an amazing NASCAR career. You have inspired so many in ways that cannot always be told through words, so as a statistician, amateur writer, and NASCAR fan, I thank you for bringing me to the sport and making me cheer every single week. Thank you for the memories, and here’s to new and more great memories starting in 2016.

Ashley Hobbs

Birthday: 9 March 1989 (so I do not have to update my age each year)
Location: Florida (Jersey native, born and raised)

What better way to combine 2 of my favorite things, NASCAR and statistics, than providing y’all with an analytical report each weekend during the NASCAR season.

When I am not crunching the numbers, I spend time with my hubby, 3 black cats (Ninja, Daytona, and Chronos), and I watch too much TV, especially Doctor Who. Why yes, I am a geek and proud! So join forces with me and follow my weekly Crunching The Numbers segment. Who knows, I may surprise you!

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