Gordon 'In the Conversation'

Jeff Gordon

"Man, the thing is, I love just the fact that we’re in the conversation right now." (Photo: Getty Images)

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Jeff Gordon is enjoying being part of the Sprint Cup Series championship discussion even though he understands the challenge that lies ahead.

Gordon’s win last week at Martinsville pulled him to within 27 points of co-leaders Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson heading into this weekend’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. While there’s still a lot of ground to be made up in the last three weeks of the season, Gordon is happy to at least be part of the title talk.

“Man, the thing is, I love just the fact that we’re in the conversation right now,” Gordon said Friday at Texas. “I’m just excited that we’re not talking about me retiring and what changes need to happen to our team. I mean, you’ve got to understand those are the conversations and questions I’ve been getting and asked the most this season and I understand. Our results and our stats have not been good enough to have any other questions be asked.

“So, now they are. Now we’re getting asked different questions. I’m fine with all of them. We’re not going into anything hoping or wishing anything bad on anybody. We’re just proud to be where we’re at and we just hope that we can keep that up. We’ve got momentum and we’ve got a lot of excitement within the team. We’re going to the racetrack having fun, whether we’re testing or racing. I just want to keep that going all the way to Homestead no matter what the results are when this thing is over, we’ll be able to hold our heads up high.”

Gordon was added as a 13th participant in this year’s Chase field by NASCAR CEO Brian France in the aftermath of the Richmond regular season finale scandal and Michael Waltrip Racing manipulation. It’s been an uphill battle to work his way further to the front of the championship lead but the four-time champion has taken it all in stride.

“Oh I’ve faced much larger challenges than this,” Gordon laughed. “I mean not even being in the conversation is a bigger challenge. Not even being in the Chase is a bigger challenge. I’m pretty excited we got that win last week because we have had seasons where we didn’t win races either. I’m not saying we couldn’t still be in this conversation without winning that race, but I’ve had a few years throughout my career even before I got in the Cup Series and in the Cup Series that have been more challenging than this one.”

While his Martinsville victory last week gave Gordon and his team a jolt of confidence and momentum, it didn’t take that large a chunk out of his points deficit. But Gordon remains upbeat about the final trio of races and what happen while remaining realistic about his plight.

“I don’t think we are really in the thick of this thing enough for everybody to all of a sudden throw us in there,” said Gordon. “I think we have got to make up that gap. That is why let’s see what happens after this weekend. But other people want to make it we win, got momentum, we have been moving up in the points and now we show up here and there are cameras all over us and it’s like ‘we didn’t make up that many points folks’.

“So perception is pretty interesting. Within the team it’s really just more positive things are happening and we are just enjoying ourselves and we are just enjoying being a part of the conversation.”

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