NASCAR's Jeff Gordon nears 20-year anniversary of first Cup win

Jeff Gordon, now 42, won his first Cup race 20 years ago this month. He has won 88 overall

"Wow, it's hard to believe," Jeff Gordon said.

The NASCAR driver was referring to how, this month, it will be 20 years since his first victory in what is now called the Sprint Cup Series.

The race was the 1994 Coca-Cola 600, and Gordon -- who soon would be known as the "wonder boy" of stock car racing -- went on to win 88 Cup races overall and the Cup championship four times.

The series races this Saturday night at Kansas Speedway. Then comes NASCAR's All-Star race, followed by this year's edition of the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 25.

Gordon is 42 now and again gunning for a fifth title in his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Through 10 races, the Vallejo, Calif., native is first in the Cup championship standings with seven top-10 finishes.

But Gordon has yet to win this year. And under a new format NASCAR introduced this season, drivers who win races during the 26-race regular season almost automatically earn a berth in the 10-race Chase for the Cup title playoff.

"We're off to a great start," Gordon told reporters on a conference call Wednesday. "Right now I'm healthy. We're very competitive out there.

"Not really thinking of anything else other than maybe the urgency of how important it is to win this season if you're going to win the championship," he said.

And Gordon acknowledged that, at his age, his opportunities for another title are dwindling.

"I know that time is running short," he said. "I can't say I'm sitting here concerned about it. I've had an amazing career. I've accomplished more than I ever thought that I would."

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