Gordon Wonders 'What if ... ?'
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone on October 25, 2013 | 6:03 P.M. EST
Jeff Gordon believes he’d have more than four Sprint Cup Series championships had he and Ray Evernham continued to work together. (Photo: Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon believes he’d have more than four Sprint Cup Series championships had he and Ray Evernham continued to work together.
While the Hendrick Motorsports driver has four title to his credit, the last came in 2001 and he has finished inside the top five in the standings only once in the last five seasons.
When teamed up with Evernham as crew chief, Gordon won three of his titles. But Evernham last worked with Gordon in September 1999 before going on to run his own team when Dodge came back to the sport, ending the successful combination.
Had things turned out otherwise, Gordon - who will start ninth in Sunday's Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway - says the duo would have added to their successful resumes.
"I think all the time, back to when Ray and I were together, and if we could have just made it through 1999," Gordon said Friday. "Now, I don’t know if it would have changed his offer to go do the Dodge team, but that was a tough year for us. I was growing, things were changing and we went through a time where I felt like I could do it without him and he felt like, well, 'Maybe he can do it without me, but I’ve got another opportunity.'
"We’ve been able to stay close friends through it all, but we always talk about that time and I really think that if you make it through those tough times, it only makes you stronger. I think if we had done that, we could have really gone on to win even more championships together."
Gordon is still in the hunt for championship No. 5 this season and entered the Martinsville weekend fifth in the Chase standings, trailing leader and teammate Jimmie Johnson by 34 points. He credits Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus for staying together through lean times as well as successes as one of the strengths that has helped bring them five crowns.
"It certainly looks that way," said Gordon. "But they’ve gone through their ups and downs as well, and I really give them a lot of credit for sticking together. They’re a great team and they’re going to win a lot if they can stay together. They've proven that."
Motor Racing Network – "The Voice of NASCAR" – will have live coverage of Sunday’s Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 from Martinsville Speedway at 12:30 p.m. (ET), with live streaming at MRN.com. Gordon will be the subject of this week’s "One on One" interview.