|Jeff Gordon at Darlington|
Photo Credit: Genevieve Cadorette
"I don't remember too much about the weekend,” Gordon said, “but I do remember Richard (Petty) walking through the garage with a huge number of fans with him. And he gave us money clips with our starting position during the driver's meeting - something I still have to this day.”
In 20 years, Gordon has accomplished four Cup championships and 86 victories. At Atlanta, he’s finished in the top ten 24 times and finished first five times in 38 starts.
Gordon’s first race may not have been the most memorable for him but the last time NASCAR visited Atlanta is one of his greatest memories. Last September’s race was postponed until Tuesday afternoon due to rain and Gordon won, marking his 85th victory with Hendrick Motorsports.
This year had some rough spots for Gordon. His bad luck started in the Bud Shootout in February when a crash sent him sliding on his side and ended with tumbling around the track a few times. In Martinsville, Gordon had a solid day with a strong car. He was in the top five and might have won but a wreck late in the race took him out of the top five and he finished 14th.
The first win this season didn’t come for the No. 24 Hendrick team until Aug. 5 at Pocono, but Gordon had poor finishes at the next two races, Watkins Glen and Michigan.
Sunday’s race in Atlanta will be aired on ESPN at 6:30 p.m. ET. "I expect the track to be a lot faster at night," Gordon said. "But I think we will still be able to race high, low and everywhere in between."
This could be the first season Gordon doesn't make it to the Chase, although a second win might secure his spot in the top 12.