By Ben White
Driving the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Jeff Gordon recorded seven victories, 23 top-10 finishes and eight pole positions en route to the first NASCAR Cup Series titles for himself and Hendrick Motorsports.
After arriving on the scene in 1992, Gordon, a former USAC open-wheel racer, steadily found his place in the NASCAR Cup Series, winning his first race in the 1994 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He also topped the inaugural Brickyard 400 that year, establishing himself as an up-and-coming star.
In 1995, it was as if a switch had been flipped. Gordon and crew chief Ray Evernham had found the magic, and they made winning look commonplace. Gordon had finally found the consistency he needed to contend on a weekly basis, not just during the select big events in which he excelled the previous season.
Gordon began the schedule 22nd in points after finishing outside the top 20 in the Daytona 500. A win at Rockingham Speedway the next week moved him to seventh, followed by a drop to 13th after a fuel pump failed at Richmond.
From there, Gordon was able to maintain his place among the top 10 in points. He assumed command in the championship battle after winning at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 9 and never looked back.
Dale Earnhardt, driving the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, led a portion of the season in points but ultimately finished second, 34 markers behind Gordon. Earnhardt logged five wins with 23 top-10 finishes. DNFs at both Michigan races severely impacted his title hopes.
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Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, won seven NASCAR Cup Series races with six coming on superspeedways and one on a short track. His Concord, North Carolina-based team owned by Rick Hendrick and led by crew chief Ray Evernham was strong both on the track and in the pit area. Gordon’s 5.0 average start and 9.5 average finish were enough for the native of Vallejo, California, to secure his first Cup Series championship.
Driving the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Terry Labonte won the Goody’s 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway by crashing across the start-finish line after being punted by Dale Earnhardt in the No. 3 RCR Chevrolet. Labonte crashed into the wall but was able to drive his badly damaged car into Victory Lane. Seeing that he wasn’t going to win, Earnhardt tagged Labonte’s rear bumper and sent him spinning under the checkered flag.
Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet notched seven wins with 23 top-10 finishes in 31 series starts.
The No. 3 RCR Chevrolet driven by Dale Earnhardt went to Victory Lane five times and had 23 top-10 results.
1995 Season Recap
DATE | LOCATION | WINNER
Feb. 19 | Daytona International Speedway | Sterling Marlin
Feb. 26 | Rockingham Speedway | Jeff Gordon
March 5 | Richmond Raceway | Terry Labonte
March 12 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Jeff Gordon
March 26 | Darlington Raceway | Sterling Marlin
April 2 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Jeff Gordon
April 9 | North Wilkesboro Speedway | Dale Earnhardt
April 23 | Martinsville Speedway | Rusty Wallace
April 30 | Talladega Superspeedway | Mark Martin
May 7 | Sonoma Raceway | Dale Earnhardt
May 28 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Bobby Labonte
June 4 | Dover Motor Speedway | Kyle Petty
June 11 | Pocono Raceway | Terry Labonte
June 18 | Michigan International Speedway | Bobby Labonte
July 1 | Daytona International Speedway | Jeff Gordon
July 9 | New Hampshire Motor Speedway | Jeff Gordon
July 16 | Pocono Raceway | Dale Jarrett
July 23 | Talladega Superspeedway | Sterling Marlin
Aug. 5 | Indianapolis Motor Speedway | Dale Earnhardt
Aug. 13 | Watkins Glen International | Mark Martin
Aug. 20 | Michigan International Speedway | Bobby Labonte
Aug. 26 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Terry Labonte
Sept. 3 | Darlington Raceway | Jeff Gordon
Sept. 9 | Richmond Raceway | Rusty Wallace
Sept. 17 | Dover Motor Speedway | Jeff Gordon
Sept. 24 | Martinsville Speedway | Dale Earnhardt
Oct. 1 | North Wilkesboro Speedway | Mark Martin
Oct. 8 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Mark Martin
Oct. 22 | Rockingham Speedway | Ward Burton
Oct. 29 | Phoenix Raceway | Ricky Rudd
Nov. 12 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Dale Earnhardt