Tonight marks Jeff Gordon’s last chance to win a race at every track on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit, but if one looks at history, he already has done it.
No, he has not won at Kentucky Speedway – site of Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 on NBCSN – but if you look at the tracks the series raced his rookie year, he’s accomplished the feat.
In 1993, there were 17 different tracks that played host to the 30 races. The two tracks no longer on the circuit were Rockingham and North Wilkesboro. Gordon won four times at Rockingham and once at North Wilkesboro – capturing the final Sprint Cup race run at that track.
With the sport’s expansion, there are 23 tracks that play host to the 36 races in 2015.
Since Gordon’s rookie season, NASCAR has added Indianapolis Motor Speedway (first Cup race in 1994), Auto Club Speedway (1997), Texas Motor Speedway (1997), Las Vegas Motor Speedway (1998), Homestead-Miami Speedway (1999), Chicagoland Speedway (2001), Kansas Speedway (2001) and Kentucky Speedway (2011).
While NASCAR has made it more difficult for a driver to win at every track by adding events, Gordon has kept pace except for Kentucky.
“It’s not if we don’t that I’m going to be super disappointed,’’ Gordon said of scoring win at every track currently in the series. “I’m going to be disappointed if we finish second to come that close, yeah, that would be a little disappointing as far as the stats go. But I would like to have a good strong finish here and just have a shot at it. It would be pretty cool if we pulled it off.”
Despite not winning at Kentucky, Gordon has finished in the top 10 in each of his previous four Kentucky starts. His average finish of 7.25 at Kentucky ranks fourth behind Kyle Busch (4.5 average finish), Matt Kenseth (4.5) and Jimmie Johnson (7.0).
“I feel like we have always run well towards the end of the race, but maybe didn’t always start off as strong,’’ Gordon said.
Will that change tonight?