NASCAR’s Best Road Course Racer Ever

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Who is NASCAR’s best road course racer ever? Marcos Ambrose? He is one of them, but his body of work is too short. Boris Said? If we’re talking about perhaps the best road course driving COACH ever, the curly-headed road master gets the nod. Juan Pablo Montoya? He’s worthy of consideration, but the criteria applied to Ambrose also applies to JPM. For all their victories, Richard Petty and David Pearson trail the best road course racer NASCAR has ever seen: Jeff Gordon.

With nine victories on tracks of right and left turns, Gordon leads Tony Stewart by two, and Rusty Wallace, Bobby Allison, Ricky Rudd and Richard Petty by three. Even more impressive is that the four-time champion won six road course races in a row from August, 1997 at Watkins Glen to June of 2000 at Sonoma.

Considering Gordon once aspired to race Indy cars, there’s no doubt his experience as a youth served him well. Once he perfected the art of negotiating road courses with stock cars, the driver who spent his formative years in Pittsboro, Indiana was a beast. In addition to the nine wins in his 45 road course starts (a mind-blowing 20% winning average), Gordon has also amassed 20 top fives and 27 top 10s. Statistically, the Vallejo, California born legend is tops all-time at his “home” track of Sonoma, over Ricky Rudd, Tony Stewart, Rusty Wallace and Kyle Busch.

Watkins Glen, where the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stops this week, has provided a greater challenge. One-time Gordon arch-rival Tony Stewart tops the leaderboard in terms of wins (5- 4), Stewart also holds the overall advantage, leading Gordon, Mark Martin, Rudd, and Wallace. Truth is, since Gordon’s last victory at the upstate New York track in 2001, he’s had a number of rough races there, his last top ten coming five years ago. With a Chase berth hanging in the balance, this Sunday’s race would be a great time for one Jeffrey Michael Gordon to re-capture his former glory.

Gordon’s remarkable body of work put him among the best of all time. His 92 victories ranks third behind Richard Petty and David Pearson. Only Petty, Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jimmie Johnson have more champions than the four-timer. The fact is Jeff Gordon could win anywhere- including road courses. His varied success lends all the more credence to the notion that any discussion of the greatest drivers of all-time should include Gordon. On the road courses, only Tony Stewart might be close.