The Frontstretch: Pace Laps: 700 Starts, Fast Rookies and Family Traditions by Frontstretch Staff -- Monday May 13, 2013

Go to site navigation Go to article

Pace Laps: 700 Starts, Fast Rookies and Family Traditions

Frontstretch Staff · Monday May 13, 2013


Did you miss an event during this busy week in racing? How about a late-night press release, an important sponsorship rumor, or a juicy piece of news? If you did, you’ve come to the right place! Each week, The Frontstretch will break down the racing, series by series, to bring you the biggest stories that you need to watch going forward for the week ahead. Let our experts help you get up to speed, no matter what series you might have missed, all in this edition of Pace Laps!

Sprint Cup: Gordon’s Stellar Career By the Numbers Jeff Gordon has been setting the bar for Sprint Cup competition for more than two decades now. He is a certain Hall of Fame driver, third all-time in Cup Series wins with 87; only Richard Petty and David Pearson have more victories than Gordon. He is 15th on the all-time starts list for the series, passing Buddy Baker for that spot.

Jeff Gordon further cemented his place as one of the best in NASCAR history at Darlington, with a milestone and a Cup record.

Gordon’s 700 starts are most among active drivers, and he has never missed a single race since the 1992 season finale, setting a series record for consecutive races from the start of a driver’s career. It’s also good for second on the all-time consecutive starts list to Ricky Rudd’s 788. And what a career it’s been for Gordon. Of his 700 starts, Gordon has finished in the top 10 more than half the time with 417 top 10s. He also has 300 top 5s to go with his 87 wins. Only three others can boast of 700 starts and 300 top 5s; the others (Petty, Pearson, and Bobby Allison) are already in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

One of those top 5s came Saturday night in Darlington, where Gordon finished third. He has seven wins in the traditional Labor Day weekend Southern 500, which was the oldest continuously run race in the sport before it was removed from the schedule in 2003. One of those wins made Gordon the second driver to win the Winston Million bonus award, which was given by the then-title sponsor to a driver who could win three of NASCAR’s four biggest races.

Gordon says he was thrilled to know he’d reach his 700th start at Darlington.

“We’ve known for some time that this should be where it should happen,” Gordon said Saturday night. “I thought that was very cool.  I think, looking back throughout my career, this track has been one of the best for me, a very special place, (which) holds so much history for this sport. To have the seven wins here that I have, I couldn’t think of a better place to come to and get the 700th start there.  Then to go out there and have a strong performance, it felt great. I wanted the 700th to be a memorable one, and I’m glad it wasn’t like last year’s memory where we blew two left rear tires back to back.  This was much better than that.” Amy Henderson

Nationwide: A Tale of Total Domination Joe Gibbs Racing has been dominant for years on the Nationwide Series circuit, with a combination of Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth and more accumulating a stunning amount of wins in recent memory. At the VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 at Darlington, the Gibbs dominance reached its most potent level yet.

Kyle Busch — shocker — scored his fifth win of the Nationwide season in eight starts, leading all but 40 of the 147 laps run. The rest of the top 5? Elliott Sadler, Brian Vickers, Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth. Logano, who formerly paced the field in a Gibbs machine, was entered in a Penske Racing car, but all others were fielded by Joe Gibbs Racing. Four cars. Four top-5 finishes.

Perhaps the name of the game isn’t just defeating Cup regulars when they come down to race in the second-tier series. Maybe Joe Gibbs Racing simply can’t be beat in 2013; over half the season’s races have been won by someone in the team’s stable, with more certain to follow. In 2013 alone, Gibbs drivers have five wins, 15 top 5s and 20 top-10 finishes, spread out between the four drivers — Busch, Kenseth, Vickers and Sadler — entered at Darlington.

This trend probably won’t stop anytime soon. When the series returns from a week break, it’ll be in Charlotte. The two tracks closest to Charlotte on the schedule so far have been Texas and Auto Club. The winner at both those tracks? Kyle Busch.

Yep, it’s Joe Gibbs Racing’s world, all right. We’re just living in it. Kevin Rutherford

IndyCar: Busy Opening Weekend and Fast Rookies at Indy It’s May and cars are on the track in Speedway, Indiana once again! In addition to Kurt Busch on Thursday, AJ Allmendinger, Tristan Vautier, and Carlos Munoz successfully completed the Rookie Orientation Program on Saturday. A fourth rookie driver, Conor Daly, will complete the ROP on Monday.

Ed Carpenter set fast lap on Saturday, followed by Josef Newgarden, Munoz, Charlie Kimball and Alex Tagliani. While Carpenter was pleased with his fast lap, he said that wasn’t really the goal at this stage.

“It’s still very early in the process. We got what we needed for today. So I am happy with that. We really aren’t worried about trying to get a fast lap right now,” said Carpenter. “Not everyone ran today, but I wanted to get a couple of things done today. Being the team owner, I can make the call when we go out on track. And I felt with Sunday’s weather being not as good, we should get in some laps today.”

The rookie Munoz, current Firestone Indy Lights points leader, topped the speed charts on Sunday with a lap of 223.023 mph., one day after successfully completing orientation. He was followed by Ryan Hunter-Reay, E.J. Viso, and Marco Andretti. AJ Allmendinger in fifth was the only non-Andretti Autosport car in the top 5.

“It is nice to be in the top (of the charts). It was in the tow, and I think I had a little bit better tow than my teammates. But, for sure, we have a long ways to go. I’m still learning a lot, especially on the grooves,” said Munoz.

More practice sessions are scheduled for Monday and Friday afternoons ahead of Pole Day qualifying next Saturday. Toni Montgomery

Short Tracks: Like Father, Like Son Racing is a family sport. Since the very beginning, when the Pettys started out dominating the sport and the Allisons fought their way to the top, family has been an underlying pillar of racing. Matt Kenseth has a son named Ross who currently competes in the PASS racing series Southern Division. Saturday night, while his dad was scoring his first career Cup win at Darlington Raceway, Ross was dodging rain drops and outdueling the other young guns of PASS who were racing at South Boston Speedway. As the night drew to a close the two Kenseth’s were celebrating wins in their respective divisions, some 210 miles apart.

Ross is a product of Matt’s first marriage, one that many NASCAR fans are unaware of. The two drivers’ relationship has been growing closer over the years, and racing is certainly playing a role in that budding relationship. Matt and Ross certainly aren’t the first father and son who weren’t close thanks to a broken home who are now growing closer and learning about each other as their ages have advanced. It is very neat to see racing play an active role and hopefully, before Matt hangs up his helmet in the Cup series, he’ll get to race alongside his son at least once. Mike Neff

Connect with Amy!

Contact Amy Henderson

Connect with Kevin!

Contact Kevin Rutherford

Connect with Toni!

Contact Toni Montgomery

Connect with Mike!

Contact Mike Neff

The Frontstretch Newsletter, back in 2014 gives you more of the daily news, commentary, and racing features from your favorite writers you know and love. Don’t waste another minute – click here to sign up now. We’re here to make sure you stay informed … so make sure you jump on for the ride!

Today on the Frontstretch:
Beyond the Cockpit: Alexis DeJoria On The 300 mph Women of the NHRA
A Swan’s Broken Wings Equal NASCAR’s Next Concern?
Thinkin’ Out Loud – The Off Week Season Review
Pace Laps: Swan Racing’s Future, Fast Females and Dropping Out
Sprint Cup Series Facilities Can Build Upon Fan Experience by Looking to Their Roots


©2000 - 2008 Frontstretch Staff and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

Michael in SoCal
05/13/2013 03:13 PM

First off – Congratulations to both Kenseth’s for their respective wins. I hope they had a heck of a celebration over the weekend, of course with Katie as the center of it all on Sunday.

Secondly – Cup drivers continue to dominate Nationwide races. Okay, just more free time for me on the weekends. Not watching a Nationwide race if there’s more than three Cup drivers.

05/13/2013 10:53 PM

Michael, I agree. NASCAR’s idea of making the drivers declare where they would try for a points championship hasn’t worked. It’s time to limit the number of races a cup driver can compete in a lower series and that includes the trucks.

Enjoyed the race at Darlington because i was there. I got to skip the Fox nonsense. The broadcasts need to get away from the Too much talk, not enough action instead of the crap the director/ producer or whoever it is who is supposed to be in charge is presenting.


Contact Tom Bowles

Recent articles from Tom Bowles:

Did You Notice? ... Breaking Down A Sprint Cup Season Eight Races In
Did You Notice? ... Drivers Still Make A Difference... But Silly Cautions Don't
Did You Notice? ... NASCAR's Free Agent Lynchpin, Uncomfortable Reality And Gambling
Did You Notice? ... Toyota Trouble, Limping Into Action And Testing The Waters
Did You Notice? ... Keep On Asking, And You Will Receive A Qualifying Sigh Of Relief

If you want to know more about Tom Bowles or to view all of his articles here at the Frontstretch, check out his archive and bio page.

Want even more Tom Bowles? Check out Tom's archive at