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NASCAR All-Star Moments: When Jeff Gordon Won the Race in a Back-up Car in 2001

Gowtham Ramalingam

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Hendrick Motorsports legend Jeff Gordon is a three-time All-Star race winner. But the third time that he won it, in 2001, stands out for a particular reason. Beginning the race under dark clouds, Gordon wrecked his #24 Chevrolet Camaro inside the first lap after being hit by Michael Waltrip in a very wet track. Three other cars wrecked alongside him. This led to NASCAR making an interesting decision.

Since the first lap had not yet been completed and because the brewing thunderstorm was forcing a two hour delay to restart the race, the sanctioning body ruled that the four drivers who were wrecked can bring out their backup cars to compete. The unusualness lies in the fact that John Andretti faced a similar situation in 2000 and he wasn’t allowed to use his backup car.

Gordon kicked off, once again, from the back of the field and made no mistake with his second chance. He finished the first 30-lap segment in fourth place, the second 30-laps in second place, and led the final 10 laps to take home winning honors. The other backup cars were being piloted by Jeff Burton, Michael Waltrip, and Kevin Harvick. None of them finished inside the top-15.

Jeff Gordon predicted winning the All-Star race for the third time after wrecking

Even before the scheduled start, slight rain had graced the track and made it slippery. Officials made nothing of it and decided to go ahead with the green flag. As a result, the cars collided with each other even before they could get to Turn 1. During the two-hour delay that ensued, Gordon spoke to the press and made a prediction of what was to come once he got his back up car out.

“It was raining hard when we took the green but, boy, when we got to Turn 1 it was coming down hard,” he said. “Tore up some race cars but hey, this is the Winston. It just gets more interesting all the time. We’re able to get the  backup car out and who knows maybe we can go out there and win with the backup. Wouldn’t that be a story?”

As fate would have it, he ended up outlasting Dale Jarrett and Tony Stewart to earn the $500,000 prize money. The pit crews of all four teams that used backup cars were highly appreciated for the tough task that they completed in swapping engines between the main car and the back up inside the two-hour time limit that they had. 

Post Edited By:Srijan Mandal

About the author

Gowtham Ramalingam

Gowtham Ramalingam

Gowtham is a NASCAR journalist at The SportsRush. Though his affinity for racing stems from Formula 1, he found himself drawn to NASCAR's unparalleled excitement over the years. As a result he has shared his insights and observations by authoring over 350 articles on the sport. An avid fiction writer, you can find him lost in imaginary worlds when he is not immersed in racing. He hopes to continue savoring the thrill of every lap and race together with his readers for as long as he can.

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