On this day in 1998, Jeff Gordon won at Sears Point aka Infineon Raceway aka Sonoma Raceway for the first time and would set off an unprecedented run in modern era NASCAR.
His win on June 28th, 1998 at Sonoma saw him outduel Bobby Hamilton (rip in peace) in the #4 car for his first Sears Point win. That win would set Gordon up for wins in 1999 and 2000 as he quickly solidified himself as the best road racer in NASCAR. Gordon on a road course in the 90’s and early 2000’s was a nearly guaranteed victory. Before Fox came in the pants for AJ Allmendinger, Jeff Gordon was the guy swooning NASCAR’s talking heads with this left and right turning talent.
What else that win helped do was spark a summer run that hasn’t been matched in modern-era NASCAR. With that win, Jeff Gordon went on a tear winning 7 of the next 9 races and quickly asserted himself as the big swinging dick at the cracker factory. He was untouchable, dominance of that level hadn’t been witnessed since Richard Petty had factory Dodge backing competing against dude’s who drove there with their family in the race car. GORDON DIDN’T FINISH OUTSIDE OF THE TOP 5 FOR 15 STRAIGHT WEEKS FOLLOWING THAT SONOMA WIN. FIFTEEN.
While Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire were exchanging bombs in pursuit of the home run record, Jeff Gordon was pursuing his own record. 1998 saw Gordon win an astonishing 13 races, tied for the most in the modern era and at a time when parity in NASCAR was at an all-time high. 1998 was a huge sports year we don’t talk about enough.
Jeff Gordon on a road course was an incredible thing to watch. His last win at Sonoma came in 2006, in fact, that was his last road course win. He would spend the next decade chasing another victory only to have three second-place finishes tease him of the former glory he once had at the track.
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