HOMESTEAD, Fla.—On Sunday at Homestead, Jeff Gordon will make his 689th consecutive start in the Sprint Cup Series, the longest active streak among active drivers and the third longest all-time behind Ricky Rudd (788) and Rusty Wallace (697).
There were some tense moments, however, as Gordon awaited a penalty ruling from NASCAR after Gordon retaliated against Clint Bowyer in last Sunday’s Cup race at Phoenix, wrecking himself and Bowyer, as well as Joey Logano and Aric Almirola in the process.
There was sentiment in some quarters for parking Gordon for the season finale at Homestead, but NASCAR chose to levy a $100,000 fine and placed Gordon on probation for the balance of the season.
A suspension would have undone plans by Gordon’s sponsor, DuPont, to celebrate 20 years on the No. 24 Chevrolet with a special paint scheme.
“I tried not to think about that,” Gordon said Friday at Homestead. “I know the folks at DuPont were worried about it. They put a lot into this paint scheme and planning. This has been out—really we’ve been talking about this for about 10 weeks, commemorating this moment with this car.
“Until I heard that they were worried about it, I wasn’t too concerned about it. I knew there would be fines and penalties, but I felt like I’d be in the seat of that DuPont Chevrolet this weekend.”
As it turned out, Gordon was right, and his 689th start will keep him one ahead of Bobby Labonte, who will take the green flag in his 688th straight Cup race on Sunday.