Jeff Gordon and Brian Whitesell are 2 for 2.
Gordon caught and passed Bobby Labonte with seven laps to go today, pulling away to win the rain-delayed UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
"I really should seriously consider retirement right now," Whitesell joked after clambering down from his race perch on the Hendrick Motorsports tool box.
Whitesell became Gordon's crew chief on Sept. 28 when Ray Evernham, the long-term mentor and friend of both, resigned to form his own team.
Five days later, Whitesell made a late-race decision to keep his driver on the track while the other contenders pitted, and Gordon held on to win in Martinsville, Va. This time, Whitesell and the Rainbow Warriors' crew gave their driver some fast pit stops and kept improving the car throughout the day.
"We were good on long runs, but Bobby Labonte got a great jump out there," Gordon said. "He was good on new tires. He took off and I said, 'Man, we're done. We're going to have to race for a second or third.'
"Then Brian made some small changes, the track came to us a little bit and the car just came to life. Man, he's awesome. I'm just so excited about having him."
It was the series-high seventh win this season for Gordon, who moved into a tie for 10th on the Winston Cup career list with Rusty Wallace at 49.
Despite the wins, it hasn't been a vintage year for Gordon, now fourth in season points after winning three of the last four championships and finishing second the other year.
"The type of year we've had, we've been up and down, up and down. But, I'll tell you, this team is psyched, they're pumped up," Gordon said. "Winning is a big motivator. No telling what we're going to do in the future, but this year is going great right now."
Labonte, trying hard to catch runaway leader Dale Jarrett in the Winston Cup points standings, dominated the 334-lap race, leading five times for 136 laps. He appeared on the way to an easy victory before getting hung up in lapped traffic in the late going.
Labonte had built a lead of nearly three seconds by Lap 309, but saw Gordon looming in his rearview mirror after finally clearing the slower traffic six laps later. After that, it was just a matter of time as Gordon crept closer and finally moved by Labonte on the backstretch of the 1 1/2-mile oval on Lap 327.
Gordon's Chevrolet crossed the finish line .851 seconds--about 10 car-lengths--ahead of Labonte's Pontiac. Gordon's average speed of 160.306 mph broke the previous 500-mile race record--154.537 by Ernie Irvan in October 1993.
CAPTION: Jeff Gordon celebrates his series-high seventh win of the year in the rain-delayed UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.