NASCAR driver and former Jalopnik editor-in-chief’s personal nightmare Jeff Gordon’s only win of his last year in the Sprint Cup is a meaningful one. By winning today at Martinsville Speedway, Gordon gains an entry into the final Chase for the Sprint Cup shootout at Homestead-Miami.

This makes his ninety-third win of his Sprint Cup career and his ninth win at Martinsville Speedway. I don’t think there’s anyone who’s been more relieved that he finally won in his twenty-third and final year as a full-time driver than Gordon himself.

Gordon made it this far in the playoff-style chase by consistently finishing well, however, every driver wants to win, and it’s been a long, painful drought for Gordon to go winless all season long.

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As NBC pit reporter Mike Massaro mentioned in our interview before Martinsville, Gordon’s car is finally together to the point where it can contend for a win this year. As the only car left in the Chase for the Sprint Cup for Hendrick Motorsports, the team put all of their effort into Gordon’s car, and it showed today.

After being near the front of the field for much of the race, Gordon got a great restart from the front row of the field after the last yellow flag of the race. It was already starting to get dark in Martinsville Speedway — which does not have lights — but NASCAR ran the full distance of the race anyway. Gordon got out in front of Jamie McMurray and took the checkered flag in first place in front of his family, his crew and an appreciative, cheering crowd.

Gordon teared up talking to NBC Sports after the race. He said that the team will be working to improve the race car even more for the season finale, where four cars left in the Chase for the Sprint Cup contend for one Sprint Cup season championship. (Cue Highlander: there can be only one.)

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“To close out my career and know that I got a win in my final season at Martinsville,” said Gordon from the podium. “That is too good to be true.”

Martinsville is a NASCAR classic, and one of Gordon’s best tracks. If he was only going to get one win before the season ender, it means a lot for it to be here.

Photo credits: Getty Images


Contact the author at stef.schrader@jalopnik.com.