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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Gordon’s drive for five titles is very alive

It seems like just last season, many fans were ready to send Jeff Gordon to the retirement home. He had lost his touch, needed a new crew chief, and just didn’t have the goods to compete for titles anymore.

After Gordon’s start this year, capped by his first win since 2007 on Sunday at Texas, I’m guessing no one is saying that today.

The second fiddle at Hendrick to Jimmie Johnson for the past few years (ironic, since he is part owner of that team), Gordon is making a statement this year: He ain’t dead yet.

It’s been eight years since he won his last title, and gaps like that between championships are rare (though Terry Labonte did wait 12 years to win his second title), but it’s clear that Gordon has the stuff to win this year. That’s no guarantee it’s going to happen, as the Chase will make things interesting, but Gordon has been up front all year and doesn’t appear to have any intention of slowing down.

Why the resurgence? A lot of it is due to the fact that he’s finally figured out how to drive the COT, which he strugged with early. Also, he appears to have finally forged a true symbiosis with his crew chief, a la Johnson and Chad Knaus, and the results are showing on the track.

Yes folks, it appears Hendrick’s original young superstar is back to compete in his old age (all things being relative). Kyle Busch may be in the headlines more than Gordon, but there’s only one guy leading the points – and that’s Gordon.

It may not be like his dominating seasons in the late 1990s, but anyone with common sense has to recognize that it will be no surprise if Jeff Gordon hoists a fifth championship trophy this fall.

Wait a second .. Jimmie Johnson finished second?

He did it again.

Looking at the stat line, you’ll see Jimmie Johnson finished second. If you hadn’t watched the race, that’s pretty normal. But those who did watch saw Johnson pull another classic sneak-up-from-behind move after not being a factor the entire day.

He ran mid-pack for much of the day. But while the announcers focused on everybody but him, he was steadily improving his position. If the race had been a bit longer, he may have won it.

The way this team can improve its cars as the race progresses is its ace in the hole, and a large part of the reason Jimmie is the 3-time defending champion.


Anonymous Tom Massey said...

Don't Forget.

By the classic points system, Gordon has 6 champoionships.

95, 97, 98, 01, 04 & 07.

Only the chase gimmick has stopped his drive to 7 championships. This is Gordon's year for a 7th classic points championship.

April 6, 2009 at 8:19 PM 

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