Throughout their racing careers, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon have crossed paths many times, sometimes by trading paint and going against one another for victories and championships. There are indeed numerous common threads between both drivers. Both have roots in the open-wheel ranks and spent part of their childhoods in Indiana in addition to winning multiple championships.
Now,they are tied together in another way. With Stewart having won seven of the past 16 Sprint Cup races dating back to last season, it puts Stewart in select company, joining Gordon’s staggering 1998 season of dominance.
Stewart’s victories are set apart by their timing. Throughout his NASCAR career, Stewart has been known to see an uptick in performance as the season moves into the summer months. This year, his No. 14 team seems to be wasting no time. In other words, Smoke is rising rather quickly.
With that success, the comparisons instantly move to Gordon’s magical 1998 season. He won 13 times in that 33-race season. Most eye-popping, however, was what happened in the final 19 races. Gordon won 10 times and finished outside the top five just once. In addition to winning four races in a row at one point, he capped off the season with a bang, winning three of the final four races, including the Napa 500 here at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
So, with Stewart’s success, the comparison to Gordon is natural. Although Stewart’s numbers are stretched out over two seasons, they can’t be discounted. In fact, if Tiger Woods’ success in golf was known as the “Tiger Slam” when he won multiple majors over two seasons, why not refer to what Stewart is doing a “Smoke Slam?”
What it all amounts to is this. Two of the most legendary NASCAR drivers are racing right now. Much like the stories younger fans hear today about their parents seeing Allison and Petty race, many fans today will look back years from now on the likes of Stewart and Gordon.