banner
Jerry Bonkowski

Gordon not giving up Chase hopes

Posted July 28, 2012

No one has to tell Jeff Gordon what he has to do. He's well aware that he needs to win at least two of the next seven races, a stretch that begins with Sunday's Brickyard 400 – and that still may not be enough to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Should Gordon miss the Chase for the Sprint Cup, it would be for just the second time in the Chase's nine-year history.

The four-time Sprint Cup champion has struggled miserably in 2012. He comes into Sunday's Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway ranked 17th, 183 points behind series leader Matt Kenseth and 79 points out of the top 10.

That's why so many observers have been pointing at Sunday's 19th renewal of the Brickyard as a make-or-break weekend for the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet. The fans know it, the media and competitors know it, and no one knows how important it is more than Gordon.

"Obviously our season hasn’t gone the way that we had hoped it would," Gordon said. "We’ve shown a lot of speed. We’re capable of leading laps, and we just haven’t come up with the results. … These next several weeks are obviously crucial for us. You’ve got Indianapolis and we’ve got a bunch of tracks coming up that we’re definitely capable of winning at. And we know that we’re going to have to win at those in order to get ourselves in the championship Chase."

If he were to hand-pick a spot to kick off his rally to make the Chase, Gordon could choose no better spot than Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he has become the example for everyone else to follow.

In 18 previous starts, Gordon has won four Brickyard 400 races at IMS, along with 10 top-5 and 14 other top-10 finishes.

A fifth Brickyard triumph – and his first in nearly a decade (his last win at IMS was in 2004) -- would give Gordon and his team a big boost of momentum as they try to dig out of the hole they've dug for themselves thus far this season.

"I never dreamed of winning one (Brickyard 400), let along four," Gordon said. "So five would only just be unimaginable, really. Yet I look at last year (when) we were so close to getting number five. And that’s the way you have to focus on it.

"You don’t focus on a number. You focus on getting your car to the front and leading the lap that counts the most; that last one. It’s still just such a special place to drive into to experience. Even just flying over when we come in and fly into Indianapolis, I’m always excited and eager to look out the window and find the track.

"It’s just a very special place and I love just competing here. It’s a very challenging race track to compete on in our cars. … I always come in here with confidence knowing we have a shot at winning. And we’ve been fortunate to win four of them and get close to five last year. And I hope we get closer to five this year."

Gordon indeed came close in last year's Brickyard 400, finishing runner-up to winner Paul Menard.
"We ran well here last year," Gordon said. "A lot has changed since we were here last, but I'm hoping we can take what we've learned in that time and be even faster, even better this year."

While this is an important time for Gordon, there's no point in panicking. Just a few twists here or there – maybe finally getting some good luck to replace the bad luck that has put him so far back in 2012 – and Gordon could become the story of the Chase, namely, how he made it and how he potentially could go on to win his fifth career Cup championship as well.

"We’re not doing anything different than we have all year long," Gordon said. "We know how hard it is to win and we also know how easy it can be when you do things right and have a fast race car. And so, is there urgency? Yeah, absolutely. One win is going to be great, but it’s still not going to get us into the Chase, I don’t believe.

"So we know we’ve got to put a string of races together here to get ourselves in that opportunity to win more than one race."

Gordon, who will start Sunday's race from ninth position on the qualifying grid, feels his team's fortunes have turned the corner – and the results appear to bear that out. In his last five races, he's finished 6th, 6th, 5th, 12th and 6th.

"It’s really been just how do we turn these great runs into great results," Gordon said. "Obviously what makes that even more challenging as the weeks go by and you don’t get the results and the fans, the media, the social media and all those things start to weigh on you heavily. So, it’s nice to have a lot of support out there as well, like our sponsors and our fans. But most importantly, it’s what the team does. This team is one that has gotten through some pretty tough times this year and has stuck together."

Well-rested from last week's final off-weekend of the season, Gordon feels he's in the right time at the right place to accomplish two goals at once: to win his fifth Brickyard and to move closer to being one of the 12 drivers that make the Chase.

"Most people look at us while we’re in 17th in the points and no wins, as these guys don’t have a shot," said Gordon, whose best finish thus far this season is fourth (at Texas). "We’ve run so good at this track and this track and this track and this track (and being) capable of winning multiple races this year and we’ve got to put all the things together to pull off those victories.

"But we feel like we’ve run good enough to do it and are continuing to run good. And this is a good stretch of races for us to pull it off."

3 Comments

This blogpost is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • dwarner3 Jul 31, 9:24 a.m.

    after seeing the crowd at the Speedway sunday [ maybe 60,000 people ] Nascar better make some changes fast before the entire sport disappears. without popular drivers like Gordon, and Edwards out of the chase basically no one will care who wins

  • grandnational Jul 29, 10:27 p.m.

    It doesn't look like he's going to make it. He'll need at least 2 and probably 3 wins in the next 6 races. Not very likely.

  • BattlingBishop 5 Jul 29, 8:51 a.m.

    Give up, Jeff!

  • NFL: Chicago at Detroit

    Thursday at 12:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Philadelphia at Dallas

    Thursday at 4:00 pm on FOX50

  • SEC: Arkansas at Missouri

    Friday at 2:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • HSFB: Football Friday with Tom Suiter

    Friday at 11:35 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Baltimore at New Orleans

    Tonight at 9:00 on 99.9 The Fan

  • CBB: Duke vs. Furman

    Wednesday at 5:00 pm on 620am

  • CBB: NC State vs. Richmond

    Wednesday at 7:00 pm on WRAL-FM

  • NHL: Hurricanes at Florida

    Wednesday at 7:30 pm on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
1st
UWGB 33
ECU 17
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
LAC
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
LAC
7:00pm Tonight
CLE
ORL
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
POR
7:30pm Tonight
TOR
PHO
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
NYK
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
IND
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
CHI
1st
UWGB 33
ECU 17
 
1:30pm Today
WEBER
NEV
2:30pm Today
FRES
EVAN
2:30pm Today
KYST
PURD
4:00pm Today
LSU
CLEM
4:00pm Today
ALCOR
DILL
 
4:30pm Today
CHIST
UGST
4:30pm Today
DET
MDES
5:00pm Tonight
ARZ
MIZZ
5:30pm Tonight
INDST
PEAY
6:00pm Tonight
FLGC
MAR
6:00pm Tonight
LALAF
UWMIL
6:30pm Tonight
ODU
GWEBB
7:00pm Tonight
MD
ARST
7:00pm Tonight
TOL
BUCK
7:00pm Tonight
JMU
COL
 
7:00pm Tonight
WINT
ETST
 
7:00pm Tonight
GSOUT
FIU
7:00pm Tonight
BST
GRAM
 
7:00pm Tonight
APP
HAMP
 
7:00pm Tonight
MAST
JVU
 
7:00pm Tonight
XAV
MURST
7:00pm Tonight
WAKE
NICST
 
7:00pm Tonight
MSU
SCU
7:00pm Tonight
LOU
SAV
7:00pm Tonight
TENT
SELA
 
7:00pm Tonight
VCU
VILL
7:00pm Tonight
OU
WCU
7:30pm Tonight
IND
EWASH
8:00pm Tonight
ILL
BRO
8:00pm Tonight
MSST
CLAYST
 
8:00pm Tonight
BEL
LIP
 
8:00pm Tonight
TCU
MVSU
 
8:00pm Tonight
IOWA
PEPP
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
PVU
 
8:00pm Tonight
KU
RIDE
8:00pm Tonight
BAY
STEPH
 
8:00pm Tonight
INCWORD
A
 
8:30pm Tonight
USF
HAW
8:30pm Tonight
OKST
ORST
9:00pm Tonight
WYO
FAM
 
9:00pm Tonight
MARQ
YALE
 
9:00pm Tonight
CHAM
PITT
9:00pm Tonight
ILLST
SHU
9:00pm Tonight
NMST
STET
 
9:30pm Tonight
ISU
ALA
9:30pm Tonight
SDKST
CHADRON
 
9:30pm Tonight
NCOL
CCHR
 
9:30pm Tonight
OREG
MICH
10:00pm Tonight
SDU
WMICH
10:05pm Tonight
PORST
SIUE
11:00pm Tonight
AUB
TULSA
11:30pm Tonight
SDST
BYU
7:00pm Tonight
NYI
PHI
7:00pm Tonight
BOS
PIT
7:30pm Tonight
FLA
MIN
7:30pm Tonight
DET
OTT
7:00pm Tonight
BUF
NYJ
8:30pm Tonight
NOS
BAL