The last article was all about Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR’s latest Champion and the latest 7 Time Champion of the sport, and why he’s the GOAT of NASCAR. (As I stated in the past article this discussion, I think, is limited to Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and Dale Earnhardt Sr; but both Jimmie and Jeff have more wins than Sr did so in a strong category they take a lead over Dale). The last post was all about stating how Jimmie must be the GOAT of NASCAR and this one is all about Jeff Gordon in the 24 Dupont Chevrolet SS. He may not have the 7 Championships, but truly Jeff has more than a few marks that Jimmie doesn’t so let’s get into it!
Why Jeff Gordon is the GOAT of NASCAR:
- He DOES have 7 Championships after all! Okay, so he only has 4 full season trophies, that can’t be denied, but NASCAR did something in 2004 when they created a post season in the sport. That mean that the 26th race finished the regular season of NASCAR which was created when NASCAR made a post season. So there is a regular season Championship now in addition to the Chase one (which the Chase one represents the entire season naturally but hear me out). Jeff Gordon 4 times has earned the most points all season long to be a 4 time Champion. He 3 times has earned the Regular Season Championship by earning the most points from February to September, from Daytona to Richmond, the final race of the regular season. That’s very much the same thing Big Daddy did to win his 4 Winston Cups; so though the may “only” have the 4 Cups he has actually been the Champion, regular season or otherwise, 7 times. Jimmie would have 9 with this included so he takes off to higher heights, but Jeff himself is at 7 with that and so though he never won a Chase he never lost his skill as being a long season Champion. (He won the Regular Season in 2004, 2007, and 2014; proving that he was still putting up great numbers up until his next to final full season in the 24 car). Jimmie would be up 2 on Jeff in that way, not 3 like now, so that brings them closer and proves that Jeff had more dominance than he got credit for.
- He has more wins. Jeff has 93 wins to Jimmie’s 80 and while it seems very likely that Jimmie will finish his career with more than 80 it’s not a forgone fact at this point; until it happens it hasn’t happened. Jeff has more wins in the modern era than any other NASCAR driver (the next highest win total is 84; Jimmie has the 80 of course and Dale Sr has 76), and is third on the all time list behind Richard Petty’s 200 wins and David Pearson’s 105 wins. Besides winning the Championship winning races is the ultimate goal in NASCAR and in that way Jeff Gordon still trumps Jimmie Johnson. But it’s not just his win total; it’s what some of his wins represent when you look further into it that I think will always trump the driver of the 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS. Namely……
- He has more Crown Jewel wins. The Crown Jewel races in NASCAR (at minimum: Daytona 500, Coke 600, Southern 500, Brickyard 400) are the races that mean the most to win, maybe not from a points standpoint but undoubtedly these wins mean the most. Jeff has the most Crown Jewel wins of all NASCAR drivers all time, so let’s compare his numbers in each event vs Jimmie Johnson. Daytona 500: Jeff 3, Jimmie 2. Coke 600: Jeff 3, Jimmie 4. Southern 500: Jeff 6, Jimmie 2. Brickyard 400: Jeff 5, Jimmie 4. So Jeff’s total Crown wins: 17. Jimmie: 12. He has 5 wins less in the Crown Jewel races than Jeff Gordon, and that includes being 1 less than Jeff in the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400, arguably the biggest two Championships you can win in NASCAR, excluding the Chase. Jeff clearly has Jimmie beat here especially if you include Talladega, which also represents a Crown Jewel race (I just think the ones I’ve mentioned here are the biggest ones).
- He has the most impressive single season. 1998. Jeff Gordon did the thing that’s the ultimate goal of any team for any season: he won the Championship. But when you look beyond the top goal what’s next on the list? How many races did you win that year. Jimmie just won his 7th Cup the other day on top of winning the last race, winning 5 in total, which is an impressive season to be sure. But when Jeff won the Cup in 1998 he also had 13 wins to line up alongside it. 13 wins! Richard Petty is the only other driver in the 45 full years of the modern era to win as many races in a full season. So 13 wins for the season wise it’s 2-43 when it comes to years a driver got that many. Jimmie’s best season, based on a Cup and wins? He’s won the Cup and 10 races in a season before which is great. But even Jeff has done that too, in addition to his Championship/13 win season. Jeff has a season I doubt Jimmie will ever see based on taking the Cup and having a lot of wins, that’s very much something in Jeff’s favor.
- He is the all time Road Course winner and Plate winner. Jeff has 9 road course wins in his history, more than all other NASCAR drivers in all history, the next best being Tony Stewart with 8. Jimmie Johnson? He has 1. He’ll never catch Jeff on that list, so when it comes to being the biggest winner when they have to go left and right Jeff will always have Jimmie beat. Jeff has 12 Plate wins as well, the most all time in all NASCAR history, and Jimmie has 5 wins. In 15 years he has 5 wins in that and 1 on the Roadies. At that pace he could race for another 15 years and still be very much behind Jeff in these two track types. Jeff is the best driver on those and he’s the all time Road warrior, something Jimmie will never be able to claim.
- Jeff has the most poles, top 5s, and top 10s. Jimmie will never catch what Jeff in the poles. Jeff has 81 total and Jimmie has 35 and after how long Jimmie has raced it’s very unlikely he’ll ever catch Jeff in that category. Oh, and top 10 and 5 finishes? Jimmie can catch that if he races long enough but it’s not a forgone conclusion by any means; it’s entirely possible Jeff will always have more points in those categories than Jimmie ever will.
Perhaps there is more, such as Jeff’s 17 top 5 finishes in a row in 1998. Think about that! For 17 FULL RACES his worst finish was 5th!? That’s incredible, something you’ll likely never see happen again. Jeff is truly a very dominate driver and in several important categories he still has Jimmie trumped. Time will tell how it all shakes up in the end but I think the argument can be put for both as the GOAT, they truly are the greatest NASCAR has ever seen.