For past champions Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch, overcoming adversity and rebounding from bad luck have defined their 2013 season. Race No. 1 of the 10-race Chase was no different.
Busch faced a pit road speeding plenty during green-flag pit stops early in Sunday’s race, but rebounded for a fourth-place finish – his career best finish at Chicagoland Speedway. Four-time champion Gordon fell victim to bad luck – a cut tire that trapped him one lap down – but charged back through the field to finish sixth.
The strong start for the former champions could spell trouble for other Chase contenders. Their resilience at Chicagoland placed them sixth and seventh in points, respectively. And this weekend’s race will be at a track where both drivers have been strong at in the past; they each boast three wins apiece at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
When Busch won the championship in 2004 his only Chase win during the playoff stretch came in New Hampshire. Busch ran in the top five during the July New Hampshire race before his tangle with Ryan Newman relegated him to a 31st-place finish. Jeff Gordon is at the top of just about every statistical category at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, including average running position and driver rating. Gordon also picked up a top 10 in New Hampshire earlier this year, the first NHMS event using the Gen-6 race car.