NASCAR executives sent messages to Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, telling them not to stink up the show
In 1993, a kid from California entered NASCAR in his debut season. From the get go, it was a disruption as NASCAR to that point had been a traditionally Southern based sport.
Out of the gate, Jeff Gordon was blistering fast. However, he had a major issue, the kid couldn’t finish a race. The NASCAR rookie was only running at the finish of 19 races in 1993.
The following year, Gordon put the pieces together, claiming his first career win at Charlotte Motor Speedway. What fans didn’t know was, that was the first of 93 career NASCAR Cup Series victories.
It didn’t take long, domination was in order. In 1996, Gordon won 10 of 31 races. He followed it up with 10 more in 1997.
During the 1998 season, he won an astonishing 13 of 33 races for the season. That tied Richard Petty for the most modern-ear wins during a single season.
The No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team was firing on all cylinders. They were led by legendary crew chief Ray Evernham.
But, at a point, Gordon was winning too much. It gave fans a reason to passionately hate him. Not because of anything he did, even though some just didn’t like the rainbows. More, because when Jeff Gordon wins a race, they saw it as a win taken away from their favorite driver.
The problem was compounded as Gordon wasn’t just winning. He was winning, by a lot. It caught the eyes of NASCAR and word was passed along to the young driver…
Jeff Gordon says Bill France Jr told Earnhardt to keep races entertaining
An interview from 2017 has been gaining traction in the last couple weeks. Rightly so, as Gordon dropped some eye opening messages while he talked with Joe Buck.
“Unlike Earnhardt, were he sort of saw the bigger picture. See, he spent a lot more time with Bill France Jr, who was running NASCAR,” Gordon told Joe Buck.
“Bill would explain to him, ‘Look, this is racing. But, this is a sport, an entertainment sport. So, what happens on the track, if it’s not entertaining, people aren’t going to want to watch it.’ “
“Me, I didn’t get that. I was just, ‘I’m going to pass a car. I want to win the race. Don’t care how exciting it is.’ None of that, at that time, mattered to me. I just wanted to win.”
Jeff Gordon gets a message from NASCAR to slow down and stop stinking up the show
“All the sudden, something happened and Ray [Evernham] had a conversation with somebody.”
“They said, ‘Listen boy, y’all are stinking up the show. And that’s not good for NASCAR. You need to be thinking about that.’ “
“We had that conversation. So, we had a signal in the car. They would say, ‘1 second lead. Alright, two second lead. Three second lead. Alright Jeff, you’re at 4 seconds.’ “
Gordon concluded, “I would never get more than 4 seconds. I would back it down, absolutely.”