DECADES of RACING
Before 1998, only six drivers had won four consecutive races in NASCAR's modern era: Cale Yarborough in 1976, Darrell Waltrip in 1981, Dale Earnhardt in 1987, Harry Gant in 1991, Bill Elliott in 1992, and Mark Martin in 1993. Jeff Gordon joined that elite group by winning four straight races in July and August of 1998.
The two-time (soon three-time) Winston Cup champion already had victories at Rockingham, Bristol, Charlotte, and Sears Point when the series pulled into Pocono for the Pennsylvania 500 on July 26. Gordon started second, led the most laps, and won that 200-lapper ahead of Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Bobby Labonte, and Dale Jarrett. Gordon backed that six days later with his second career victory in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis. In almost a repeat of Pocono, he started third, led the most laps, and beat Martin, Bobby Labonte, Mike Skinner, and Dale Earnhardt.
Eight days later, Gordon struck again, this time in the Bud at The Glen at Watkins Glen. He started on the pole, led the most laps for the third consecutive weekend, and beat Martin, Skinner, Rusty Wallace, and Jarrett. Amidst a flurry of "can he do it?" pressure, Gordon proved he could.
A week after Watkins Glen, he started third in Michigan, but led only the final nine laps in beating Bobby Labonte, Jarrett, Martin, and Jeff Burton in the Pepsi 400 by DeVilbiss. His record-tying fourth straight victory led people to start wondering if Gordon would ever lose again. Alas, the streak ended the next Saturday night. Gordon started seventh, but was no factor in the Goody's 500 at Bristol; he didn't lead a lap, and finished a distant fifth behind Martin, Burton, Wallace, and Jarrett.
However, the four-race streak offered up these impressive stats: Gordon's average starting position was 2.5, he led 325 of the 650 laps in four races, and beat seven different top-5 drivers.
A footnote to the streak: Gordon wasted no time getting back in the winner's circle. He rebounded to win the next two races and five of the last 11 enroute to a 13-victory season.
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