Don’t like “points racing?” This season, Jeff Gordon is your guy. I could go on about how fans who accuse drivers of playing it conservative know nothing about the competitive spirit, but that would be a digression. Besides, no one need look further than old Super G to find a racer driving with purpose over the next 16 events.
A lot of “Monday Morning Quarterbacks” are writing off the four-time champion as if he is NASCAR’s Mariano Rivera. I wouldn’t be so fast to dismiss this as a lost season. In fact, I will go on record as saying he makes it.
Let us consider is case….shall we?
Let’s look at what races coming up. Darlington? Gordon has seven wins there. Charlotte? Make that five for the man who sits third in career wins. At Dover, Gordon has four career wins, and at Pocono five. Need I go on? The good ones are a threat anywhere. You really can’t name one track where he’s incapable of winning. Even on those tracks where he has yet to win, Gordon has good finishing averages.
Then for good measure, Gordon has backing him, the best resources in the business at Hendrick Motorsports, a.k.a., the new York Yankees of NASCAR. While this organization has found the competition having caught up to them, you have one of their drivers (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) in second, another (Jimmie Johnson) in eighth, and you have Kasey Kahne, whose fortunes have greatly improved of late with two straight top fives and four straight top tens. All that is to say there is no apparent team wide issue holding Big Daddy back.
So what has been dogging the four-time champ? A little bit of the trouble that visits every driver at some point in every season, and a whole lot of bad luck. There’s no lack of speed, no communication problems with the crew chief, no plethora of penalties to throw a figurative wrench in the works. Bad luck, just like good luck (just ask his teammates) doesn’t last forever.
It’s go time for Gordon, and the one driver this side of Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch that I’d say could will his way to win. Wins will be what its all about; it’s how you get the most points, and how you at the very least grab a wild card in a season where no one is running away with anything.
The odds are long, but not impossible. Remember that improbable hot summer of 2009 for Mark Martin, or how Stewart came alive on an unbelievable run to wrest the title away from consistent Carl Edwards. Championship drivers, when they crank it up, will reel off one win, then another, and get on the kind of roll that gets them into the championship. The season is still young. Save the obituary for someone else.
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Jim McCoy is a TV and radio sports anchor living in Oregon with his wife and three kids. Jim also moonlights as a radio play-by-play man and writes about his true sports passion: NASCAR. Racing is a sport, the others are just games, to paraphrase.