Gordon can surpass Yarborough at Darlington With a win on Saturday night at Darlington Raceway, Jeff Gordon can tie Cale Yarborough in victories. And, because of a name change, he can surpass Yarborough, too.
Gordon, who has 82 career NASCAR Sprint Cup victories, is one shy of fifth-ranked Yarborough on the all-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list and only two away from tying Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip for third.
At Darlington, Gordon has seven wins, three poles, 16 top-fives and 19 top-10's in 28 starts. Five of those victories occurred in the Southern 500, tying him with Yarborough for most victories in that famed event. But the Southern 500 has not been held at the historic track in five years.
Since 2005, there has been only one Cup race each season at Darlington – and it has not been named the Southern 500. However, the iconic name returns this weekend in celebration of 60 years of racing at the South Carolina track. And who will be leading the field to the green flag of the Southern 500 presented by GoDaddy.com as the honorary pace car driver? Cale Yarborough.
“I was able to spend some time with Cale a few years back at an event at the track,” said Gordon, who will drive a specially-painted No. 24 DuPont/National Guard Chevrolet in the 367-lap event.
“It was neat to hear him tell stories about racing here during that era.
“The cars have changed, the speeds have changed and the asphalt has changed, but I don’t believe the driver’s thinking has changed one bit.
You race the track here, not the other competitors.” While another win would move him up another notch on the career victories list, that is not a source of motivation.
“It’s cool to be mentioned in the same sentence as guys like Cale, Bobby and Darrell, and it’s something I’ll look back on at the end of my career,” said Gordon, who currently leads the point standings by 10 over Kurt Busch.
“But we arrive at the race track each weekend focused on trying to win, not on catching or passing people on a list.
“Our real motivation is winning the championship, and we hope we can win races as we work toward that goal.” If Gordon is victorious on Saturday night, the win will tie the present with the past.