Gordon: 'Highly Disappointed in Myself'
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on September 22, 2013 | 8:19 P.M. EST
Jeff Gordon cost himself a chance for the win when his car slid out of his pit box with less than 100 laps go to Sunday. (Photo: Getty Images)
LOUDON, N.H. - Jeff Gordon sat in his car, not ready to exit after he had parked it in the garage area. When he climbed from his car, he slowly walked alone to the side of his team’s hauler, the former champion knowing he might have lost his shot at a title this year.
Gordon re-emerged about half an hour later. He held his head up, but disappointment weighed heavy on his shoulders after his pit-road mistake Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
“Highly disappointed in myself,’’ Gordon said. “I’ll be disappointed until we get (this week) to Dover.’’
Gordon’s anguish came after the nose of his car slid over the edge of his pit box. He entered the pits leading on Lap 202 but carried too much speed into his pit box.
“I was hoping that it would stop at the line,’’ Gordon said. “I saw the official react and knew we were in trouble.’’
An official in front of the car began waving his hands for the team to back the car into its pit stall, but the crew had begun working it. They had to stop, drop the jack and push the car a few inches back before resuming. That cost Gordon several seconds and positions.
Gordon exited pit road 22nd.
“I killed us guys,’’ Gordon radioed his team. “I’ll try my best to get it back.’’
He would only make it back to 15th when the checkered flag waved.
After the race he radioed his team: “Man, I’ve never felt so bad about making a mistake in my life.’’
It wasn’t just that he lost the lead, it was that he wasn’t going to get close back to the front after the incident.
“I knew that just from the way the race was going that passing was near impossible,’’ Gordon said. “My car was really a good racecar, but it wasn’t a good passing car.’’
Between that and the “absolute chaos that goes on back there’’ Gordon reset his goal to get into the top 10 but fell short.
“We had the handling characteristics of a car that needed good track position and we had it until I messed up,’’ he said.
Had he not made the mistake and just finished fifth, Gordon would have been fourth in the point standings. Instead, he’s eighth, 42 points behind series leader Matt Kenseth.
“For us, we have to be realistic and look at our points position,’’ Gordon said. “Right now, we’re not that far out of fourth and that’s a realistic goal for us. Anything is possible. If we go on a tear, who knows? We’re higher up in points than we were when we started this thing.’’
He smiled, but it was fleeting. Even with eight races left in the Chase, he might have lost his chance to challenge for the title.