Season Review: Jeff Gordon
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on December 1, 2013 | 9:00 A.M. EST
Gordon wound up the year sixth in the final Sprint Cup Series standings, 82 points behind champion Jimmie Johnson. (Photo: Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon made the Chase under unique circumstances but was unable to win his fifth Sprint Cup Series championship.
Gordon was added as a 13th entry to this year’s Chase field by decree of NASCAR CEO and Chairman Brian France after points manipulation scandal at Richmond International Raceway. The Hendrick Motorsports driver had initially missed the cut for this year’s playoffs until France’s decision moved him into the title picture.
“There were just too many things that went on Saturday night that gave a clear disadvantage and what we deemed an unfair disadvantage to the 24 (Gordon),” said France of the move. “And we needed to address that. That’s why we withhold the right under extraordinary circumstances to do important things like we did today.”
The unprecedented decision gave Gordon a Chase spot for the ninth time in the format’s 10-year history.
“I'm very appreciative, very thankful to be in, and I know it's under the most unbelievable circumstances I've ever been a part of in my racing career, and I wish that all of this hadn't happened. I wish that we could have just raced for it on Saturday night, but that wasn't the case,” said Gordon. "Now here we are as a 13th car and in. Now we just try to take that opportunity and make the most of it."
But Gordon wasn’t able to make the most of the opportunity.
He started the Chase with a solid sixth-place effort at Chicagoland Speedway, but quickly fell into a hole the next week with a 15th at New Hampshire.
Three straight top-10 runs were derailed by a 14th at Talladega Superspeedway before Gordon made a major move the following week at Martinsville Speedway where he went to Victory Lane. Gordon got around Matt Kenseth for the lead with 21 laps to go and went on to take the checkered flag for the 88th Sprint Cup Series victory of his career.
“Man, what a great race car,” said Gordon, who led twice for 78 laps. “I thought we’d given it away a couple of times there; and I’m just so proud of how we fought.”
The victory moved Gordon to within 27 points of the Sprint Cup lead and right back into the thick of the title race.
“Well, of course we're in it,” said Gordon. “Until we're mathematically out of it, we're in it. This was certainly a big moment, big day for us.”
But those hopes were dashed the following week in Texas when blown left front tire sent Gordon into the wall on lap 73 of the AAA Texas 500 and ultimately to a 38th-place finish.
When all was said and done Gordon wound up the year sixth in the final Sprint Cup Series standings, 82 points behind champion Jimmie Johnson.
He totaled eight top five and 17 top-10 finishes during the 2013 campaign.
Motor Racing Network continues our countdown to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards in Las Vegas with a look at the fifth-place finisher, Dale Earnhardt Jr., on Monday, Dec. 2. MRN will broadcast the Awards on Dec. 6 starting at 8 p.m. (ET), with live streaming at MRN.com.