Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon always considered themselves to be loyal Chevrolet men. Richard Petty always will be associated with Dodge. But all made contributions to Ford’s 1,000 career wins in NASCAR.
Greg Biffle got the car company its milestone victory last Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, the home track to Ford Motor Co. and General Motors.
Earnhardt and Gordon each won three races for Ford early in their careers and both eventually signed a personal services contract with Chevrolet. Nine of Petty’s record 200 wins came in a Ford.
All will forever be part of a group of 124 drivers who have contributed a Camping World Truck, Nationwide or Sprint Cup series victory since the company’s first win by Jim Roper at Charlotte, N.C., on June 19, 1949.
Earnhardt won three Cup races for Bud Moore in the 1982-83 seasons. Gordon won three Nationwide races for Bill Davis in 1992.
Petty won all nine races for Ford in 1969 after he couldn’t convince Plymouth to switch to a new Dodge Daytona.
For Biffle, last Sunday’s win was important for several reasons. Not only did most Ford executives join the celebration, it was his first victory of the season. And it was his first as a father on Father’s Day.
“Just super excited for Ford,” Biffle said. “I think I contributed over 50 of those, which is a small number compared to 1,000, but still sure excited to be the number 1,000.”
Biffle actually has 53 combined victories for Ford, trailing only Martin, David Pearson (73 victories) and Carl Edwards (64).
Last Sunday’s celebration was a long time in the making. Ford clearly struggled more than Chevrolet and Toyota with the new Generation-6 race car this year. Chevrolet has seven wins in the first 15 races and Toyota has five. Biffle’s victory was the third of the season for Ford.
“Well, I think that I certainly don’t want to downplay our success at all because this is pretty exciting for our team and what we’ve done, but I feel like we’ve just scratched the surface of how much better our cars are going to get,” Biffle said.