NEW YORK -- Jeff Gordon has just one thing on his mind after winning 43 checkered flags -- No. 44.
The 27-year-old NASCAR star, fresh off his thrilling Daytona 500 victory over Dale Earnhardt, is already gearing up for the next big race.
"I was on the top of the world at Daytona. It was such a great race and everybody is talking about it," Gordon said Tuesday during a stopover in Manhattan. "It's cool to be a part of that. But on Monday morning, all that was behind us because now there's Rockingham and finding out how good a year we'll have."
It's off to a great start.
Gordon won the last two Winston Cup championships and three of the last four. A third straight title would put him in select company. Cale Yarborough won three in a row from 1976-78 and is the only driver to do that.
Certainly, Gordon thinks about that bit of history.
"I want to win another," he said. "If it's this year, great. If not, we'll work on next year. A threepeat would sure be cool."
But Gordon knows it's a grueling season, with the next stop in Rockingham, N.C., for the Goodwrench 400.
"Every race is competitive," said Gordon, whose 13 victories last year tied Richard Petty's single-season record. "There's plenty left to accomplish. To keep at this level is not easy to do. That's what drives me. What I've got in Winston Cup is not easy to come by in other sports."
He is NASCAR's version of the Denver Broncos with two straight Super Bowls, or Detroit Red Wings with two straight Stanley Cups. And he's looking at the Chicago Bulls with three straight NBA titles.
Gordon sees nothing but boom times ahead for his sport.
"I don't see myself as an ambassador of the sport but one of many ambassadors," he said. "I feel very good about what I am a part of. We put on great races with a great fan base and great sponsors. I want to see it continue to get bigger and bigger."
With Gordon at the wheel, there's little doubt it will.
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