The Frontstretch: Fanning the Flames: Chasing Legends, Dodging Beer Bottles by Matt Taliaferro -- Wednesday April 25, 2007

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Fanning the Flames: Chasing Legends, Dodging Beer Bottles

NASCAR Fan Q & A · Matt Taliaferro · Wednesday April 25, 2007


Jeff Gordon's win this past weekend at Phoenix placed Wonderboy in some pretty elite company. When you enter the Top 7 in all-time wins, your name gets mentioned in the same breath as Petty, Pearson, Yarborough, Allison, Waltrip and Earnhardt.

No question, this achievement is Mount Rushmore-esque.

So, before the victory-tying celebration becomes nothing more than a distant memory, I thought it would be interesting to see where, exactly, ol' Jeffie measures up at this point in his career — statistically speaking — with the aforementioned all-timers through race No. 481 (which is how many races it took Gordon to reach 76 career wins). The following are each of the Top 7 driver's statistics through their 481st career race:

Richard Petty (1958 - ‘69):
105 Wins, 83 Poles, 282 Top 5s, 347 Top 10s, 137 DNFs (2 Titles)

David Pearson (1960 - '77):
99 Wins, 99 Poles, 274 Top 5s, 327 Top 10s, 150 DNFs (3 Titles)

Darrell Waltrip (1972 - '89):
79 Wins, 57 Poles, 239 Top 5s, 306 Top 10s, 118 DNFs (3 titles)

Cale Yarborough (1957 - '83):
77 Wins, 64 Poles, 234 Top 5s, 287 Top 10s, 162 DNFs (3 titles)

Jeff Gordon (1992 - '07):
76 Wins, 59 Poles, 219 Top 5s, 294 Top 10s, 72 DNFs (4 titles)

Dale Earnhardt (1975 - '94):
63 Wins, 17 Poles, 218 Top 5s, 315 Top 10s, 84 DNFs (7 titles)

Bobby Allison (1961 - '80):
58 Wins, 53 Poles, 246 Top 5s, 303 Top 10s, 157 DNFs (0 titles)

What does this tell us? As you can see…absolutely nothing, unfortunately. Gordon’s from a different era, racing different cars on different tracks under different rules supported by ever-increasing technology and ever-expanding team budgets. It is food for thought, though, to see exactly where Gordon stands after a career that for a time saw him on a pace to get 140 or 150 wins. Of course, if you are a numbers guy like me, you can appreciate the fun I had adding it all up.

Okay, onto some questions. Remember, the email address is Feel free to drop me a line and let me know what's on your mind (unless Yarborough actually had 288 Top 10s instead of 287 — then, don't bother).

Q: FOX did not give Jeff Green much coverage for a sixth-place finish. If not for DW, he may have not received a mention at all. When they did the race results, they read through the list and jumped over Jeff and sixth place completely! How is an underfunded program expected to make headway if, even when they do well, they are ignored by the networks? — Joe M.

A: Jeff's problem is he's not a 23-year old with six-pack abs and three Allstate girls chasing after him.

It's a vicious cycle, Joe. Teams like Haas CNC Racing do not have the capital the powerhouse organizations possess, therefore they fail to run up front. In turn, it is difficult to sell a $15 million sponsorship when they don't finish in the Top 10 each week. However, when they do secure a decent run, the network pays them little mind because they aren't a title contender with a sexy driver. It's not fair, but that's what it’s like in the bigs.

By the way, things may be changing for Haas CNC. Have you noticed that the Hendrick affiliation is starting to pay dividends? Green has two Top 10s in the three CoT races, and teammate Johnny Sauter came home ninth at Phoenix. Keep an eye on Tony Raines and the Hall of Fame Racing bunch; their JGR-backing has been paying dividends at the CoT races, as well.

Q: Which obscene gesture is worse: Juan Pablo Montoya's middle finger or NASCAR's hypocritical $10,000 fine? — Rush Rocket

A: Let me preface my response by saying that we, the fans and media, jump down NASCAR's throat on a weekly basis for not being consistent. In this case, it was; an obscene gesture and cursing during an interview has cost drivers money before, as it did JPM this week.

Montoya, should you choose to believe him, claims he thought the cameraman was the same person that had been filming a documentary on him and he was just having a little fun; turns out the cameraman was a SPEED employee. Oops.

Here’s my take: I believe there is a letter of the law and a spirit of the law. NASCAR chose to invoke the letter, via Section 12-4-A (all together now… actions deterimental to stock car racing!), and nail him for 10 Gs. Don't worry about Juan, though. He's rich.

Q: Is Jeff Gordon trying too hard to win over the fans who love to hate him? The No. 3 flag waving may have been from the heart, but as a general rule, Intimidator fans can't stand the Rainbow Warrior. Earnhardt, Sr. and Gordon may be alike in the win column, but they couldn't be more opposite in both persona and fan base. What did Gordon think would happen? And do you think there will be another round of flying aluminum when he passes Dale Sr.? — Nathan R.

A: Not sure what Gordo thought would happen. My guess is that he was thinking more of honoring the man, not pissing off the fan. And yes, when Super G passes Big E in the win category, the sky will rain Bud and the track will turn to foam.

Especially if it happens this weekend.

Now, why don’t you fans pony up with some questions for next week’s column! Email Matt at with your questions, comments, and concerns about what’s going on each week in NASCAR Nextel Cup.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


©2000 - 2008 Matt Taliaferro and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

M. B. Voelker
04/26/2007 11:15 AM

In re: JPM’s gesture,

Do people who object to penalties for vulgarity and obscenity really believe that my 7yo needed to see that? He’s my race-watching buddy. Not to mention that the 18mo was toddling around the room as well.

If Nascar coverage were on only after 9pm, only on a pay-cable channel like HBO, and carried a warning that it was R-rated things would be different.

BUT, Nascar coverage is on in the middle of the day when kids are certain to be in the audience, its got a PG-rating, and its advertized as a family-friendly sport. Thus people have every right to expect it to be free of vulgarity and obscenity and to expect penalties for drivers who can’t tell the difference between a barroom full of their friends and a family TV show.


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