Robby Gordon Won the Only Thanksgiving Race in NASCAR History as Jeff Gordon Was Black-Flagged

Published 11/26/2021, 12:02 AM CST
Jul 18, 2021; Loudon, New Hampshire, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Busch (18) leads the field during the start of the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Normally, every NASCAR season winds up by early November. This allows drivers to get some respite from a gruelling 36-race calendar. So it is very rare for the season to stretch until late November. However, back in 2001, this very thing happened in the Cup Series and it was highly unusual. That year, the season stretched until the weekend of 23rd November, and Robby Gordon had the honor of winning that race.


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The reason for the calendar extension was a tragic one, as it had already been a tough year for NASCAR. First and foremost, there was the fatal accident of Dale Earnhardt at the Daytona 500. Later in the year, there was the devastating 9/11 terror attack in New York. Just before that fateful day, the Cup Series had just wrapped up a race weekend at Richmond on September 8th.

In response to the terror attack, NASCAR elected to go on hiatus. The break lasted for two weeks before everyone insisted that the show must go on. So, the Cup drivers were back on track at the Dover International Speedway on September 23rd. On that day, Dale Earnhardt Jr. triumphed and paid a beautiful tribute to the victims.


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Robby Gordon stunned everyone with his Thanksgiving win

Meanwhile, the paddock was expected to touch down at New Hampshire for the September 16th race weekend. However, the hiatus meant that the race was rescheduled to a week after the season finale at Atlanta. NASCAR also scheduled the race for Friday, November 23rd, due to the potential risk of a snow storm in New England.

CONCORD, NC – OCTOBER 11: Wife Ingrid Vandebosch (L) and Jeff Gordon (R), driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet, wait by his car before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on October 11, 2008 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

That weekend, NASCAR called off the qualifying session and set the field as per the points standings. In other words, newly-crowned champion Jeff Gordon started on pole position. However, it was Robby Gordon who shocked many when he stormed to Victory Lane. His triumph came after contact between the two unrelated Gordons, resulted in the champion getting a black flag.


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Dhruv George

12288 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Motorsports author for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.