Jeff Gordon can feel good about maximizing Chase that almost got away

Posted Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
A

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

No matter what happens from here — well, almost no matter — Jeff Gordon is going to feel good about how he finished the year.

He sits fifth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings, 34 points out. With four races left, that’s too far out to be considered a real championship contender.

But considering he wasn’t supposed to be in the Chase at all — put in at the last minute by NASCAR in a make-good move following “Spin-gate” at Richmond — that’s OK. Gordon is making the most of the chance that was almost taken away.

“The emotions are good right now,” he said Tuesday at Texas Motor Speedway, where he and other teams tested this week. “I feel like I’ve put that behind us, what went on at Richmond and that week. I will say that if I go back to that week, man, that was one of the toughest weeks that I’ve been through — everybody around me, my family, my friends, our team, they were all so frustrated with how that whole thing happened.”

Gordon entered the Chase on a hot streak, and except for a 15th-place finish at Loudon and a 14th-place finish at Talladega, he’s been a top-10 driver for eight weeks. He entered the Chase as the 13th seed — awarded an extra spot because NASCAR judged he would have made the Chase properly had the results at Richmond not been manipulated by another team — and got to fourth before falling back to fifth last week.

“Racing has been fun since Chicago,” Gordon said. “And we haven’t had a lot of fun this year – I’ll be honest. We’ve struggled a lot this year. But our team never gave up, they’ve kept working hard. And that’s where I’m at right now. I love this team and love how we’re in synch. It’s just a different attitude as a team when we go to a race track and how we approach things and we’re able to execute a better game plan and practices and throughout the race, as well, because we all believe in one another and things have been going well.”

Gordon has a chance to make a move up the standings this week. Martinsville is one of his best tracks. But it’s also one of the best for leader Jimmie Johnson.

“I feel like we had to get through Kansas, and we got through Kansas very well,” Gordon said, remembering his third-place finish there three weeks ago. “That was one track that was sort of on our list of not-our-best tracks. And I think we all said we’ve got to get through Talladega, and other than a few of us, we all made it through.”

About the only thing Gordon has to feel bad about right now is that he had to get that 13th spot at all. But he is proud of being in the Chase and proud of how it’s gone for him so far.

“I’m pretty excited,” he said. “I know we’re not as high up as we want to be to battle for the championship at this moment, but we’ve had a great Chase, and we’re proud of that. And we think we have some very good tracks coming up for us to close it out.”

Series updates

Sprint Cup

Pleasant return: Danica Patrick returns to Martinsville, where in April she made her debut not only as the first woman to run there but with a 12th-place finish, a rookie performance that bested those of some of racing’s top names.

Non-Chasers: The last two victories have gone to non-Chase drivers, Brad Keselowski and Jamie McMurray. The last time that happened was 2006, when Tony Stewart went back-to-back at Atlanta and Phoenix.

Manufacturers championship: Chevy can clinch its 11th straight title and 37th in all if its top driver is ahead of Toyota’s top driver.

Nationwide

Double chances: Penske Racing is thinking about two championships. Sam Hornish is second in the driver standings, and the No. 22 Ford is second in the owners standings. Hornish trails Austin Dillon by eight points. The No. 22 trails the No. 54 by four points.

New ride: Brendan Gaughan will run a full schedule next year in the No. 62 Chevy for Richard Childress Racing.

Camping World Truck

Victory count: Johnny Sauter, who started the season with wins in the first two races, won last week for his ninth career win. His next win would make him the 14th Truck series driver with double-digit victories.

Points leader: Despite being caught up in a last-lap crash, points leader Matt Crafton finished ninth and increased his lead to 57 over Ty Dillon. Defending champion James Buescher fell to 58 points back.

F1

Chance for four: Sebastian Vettel is going for his fourth consecutive Formula One championship Sunday. He has a 90-point lead with four races to go, so he needs to finish fifth or better.

16

Consecutive top-10s for a Joe Gibbs Racing driver at Martinsville, including three consecutive wins for Denny Hamlin.

They said it

“When you’ve won a couple, they’re all very different. The first one, I think I was young, just didn’t really understand what I had won. Was the first year in the series with the team. My perspective when I was 22 or 23 of what I actually did to what I understand now is totally different.”

— Scott Dixon, IndyCar Series champion, after winning his third championship last week

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407 Twitter: @calexmendez

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?





Friday, November 28Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard
Friday, November 28Full Scoreboard
Chicago «109Final | Box
Boston102
Golden State «106Final | Box
Charlotte101
New Orleans91Final | Box
Atlanta «100
Milwaukee «104Final | Box
Detroit88
Dallas «106Final | Box
Toronto102
LA Clippers «102Final | Box
Houston85
Orlando83Final | Box
Indiana «98
New York78Final | Box
Oklahoma City «105
Sacramento104Final | Box
San Antonio «112
Phoenix97Final | Box
Denver «122
Memphis «112Final | Box
Portland99
Minnesota «120Final | Box
LA Lakers119
Full Scoreboard
Week 13Full Scoreboard
Thursday
Chicago17Final | Box
Detroit «34Gridiron Replay
Philadelphia «33Final | Box
Dallas10Gridiron Replay
Seattle «19Final | Box
San Francisco3Gridiron Replay
Sunday
San Diego 1:00 PM ET
Baltimore TV: CBS
Cleveland 1:00 PM ET
Buffalo TV: CBS
Tennessee 1:00 PM ET
Houston TV: CBS
Washington 1:00 PM ET
Indianapolis TV: FOX
NY Giants 1:00 PM ET
Jacksonville TV: FOX
Carolina 1:00 PM ET
Minnesota TV: FOX
New Orleans 1:00 PM ET
Pittsburgh TV: FOX
Oakland 1:00 PM ET
St. Louis TV: CBS
Cincinnati 1:00 PM ET
Tampa Bay TV: CBS
Arizona 4:05 PM ET
Atlanta TV: FOX
New England 4:25 PM ET
Green Bay TV: CBS
Denver 8:30 PM ET
Kansas City TV: NBC
Monday
Miami 8:30 PM ET
NY Jets TV: ESPN
Full Scoreboard
Friday, November 28Full Scoreboard
NY Rangers «3Final | Box
Philadelphia0
Chicago «4Final | Box
Anaheim1
NY Islanders2Final | Box
Washington «5
Winnipeg1Final(OT) | Box
Boston «2
Montreal1Final | Box
Buffalo «2
Detroit «5Final(SO) | Box
New Jersey4
Carolina «4Final | Box
Pittsburgh2
Vancouver «5Final | Box
Columbus0
Ottawa2Final | Box
Florida «3
Edmonton3Final(OT) | Box
St. Louis «4
Minnesota «5Final(OT) | Box
Dallas4
Full Scoreboard