Gordon Back on Track

Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon is currently second in the Wild Card standings. (Photo: Getty Images)

Jeff Gordon’s win Sunday in Pocono has helped put the four-time champion back into this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup title picture.

Gordon has struggled all season long, despite having fast cars. But on a nearly weekly basis, some kind of bad luck or misfortune has kept the No. 24 team from coming home with a victory.

That changed with Sunday’s Pennsylvania 400 victory, which even though it was a rain-shortened event Gordon says was anything but a fluke.

“I don't think a lot of people have really even put much emphasis and recognized, other than ourselves, how consistently we've been top five, top 10 the last eight weeks,” said Gordon. “That's what's moved us up into the position we're in. That's what put us into position to win that race on Sunday.

“If that was the first race we ever won, I certainly wouldn't want to win it that way. That's 86 for me. I've won plenty of races like that and lost plenty of races like that. For us, we've been building momentum for several weeks with great finishes, as well as just really solid runs. That's the difference from the start of the season. We had great runs and just weren't putting any kind of results together.”

The first 20 weeks of the season have been a struggle for Gordon and his entire team. But not giving up and believing in themselves is what got the team through the difficult times.

“When you go through something like that, it really tests you,” said Gordon. “It tests every aspect of the team, personalities. It either pulls you apart or it brings you closer together. I think the fact that we have been able to persevere; it's brought us closer and stronger together.

“But eventually you have to have a win. I know this is probably not the victory that we were really looking for or the way that we wanted to win it, but the way our season has gone, as close as we've been, you know what, even the win under these circumstances is still going to be a great boost for us to go through these next five races.”

Gordon finds himself second in the Wild Card standings behind Hendrick teammate Kasey Kahne as the regular season winds down. Although Gordon is excited for the opportunity to make a run for a Chase spot, he also understands the added stress that comes with the territory.

“Now there is more pressure because four, five weeks ago I don't know if we really felt legitimately there was a shot at us getting into the Chase,” said Gordon. “We knew how badly we needed one win. Now we've got one win. Hopefully we cannot only just keep the momentum going but take on that extra pressure of we do have a shot at it now and step up.”

The next chance to do that comes Sunday at Watkins Glen, where Gordon has enjoyed great success over the years. But Gordon also says that past performance, which includes four career wins at the historic road course, doesn’t necessarily mean it will translate to a positive performance on Sunday

“There's always pressure to every race and to win,” he said. “It seems like we've been the team to beat at Watkins Glen. I don't feel like we have a tremendous amount of pressure on us this weekend from all the competitors looking at us from the team to beat.

“If our weekend goes like it did in Sonoma, then throughout the weekend we might put a little extra pressure on ourselves. That's a good problem to have.”

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, Jeff Gordon

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