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Leaving as a Legend: Jeff Gordon Retiring on Top Despite Falling Short of Title

Back in the 1990s, when Jeff Gordon was dominating NASCAR as few men ever have, Bobby Allison told me Gordon was the smartest driver he'd ever seen. "I never thought I'd ever say that about anyone but David Pearson," Allison said, "but I believe Gordon is smarter than Pearson." It's a shame those two, Gordon and Pearson, never raced together. Gordon won 93 races and four championships. Pearson won 105 and three. It's also a shame Gordon didn't race with all the other titans of the past—Allison, Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Junior Johnson, Fireball Roberts, Curtis Turner, etc.—because his future place in the NASCAR Hall of Fame is just as assured and deserved. So he failed to win it all one more time. Kyle Busch won his first...

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