No question about it; Jeff Gordon is riding a good, old-fashioned wave of momentum.
The four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion rolled into the Chase with three consecutive top-10 finishes to energize a season during which Gordon failed to finish five of the first 18 races. Gordon’s performance peaked over the weekend in Martinsville, Va., where the 42-year-old competitor posted his 88th series victory and moved to within 27 points of Chase leaders Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson.
Gordon’s average finish through seven Chase races is 7.1, third only to Johnson (5.4) and Kenseth (6.4). He’s finished ahead of Kenseth in three of the past four races; Johnson in two of the four.
For Gordon, momentum may not be enough. We’ll know – possibly after Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 – whether Gordon realistically has a chance to become the first “worst seed” to win the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™.
The third-ranked Gordon needs another victory – and some help from his rivals.
Texas has not been Gordon’s top track. His 2009 victory snapped a 47-race winless streak. But there have been six DNFs contributing to an average finish of 17.0. Gordon’s No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet was relegated to a 38th-place finish in April due to suspension damage.
“There’s a lot of racing left and the way things are going for us, anything is possible,” said Gordon. “All we can do, I think, is go out and perform at our best and just see what happens. The nice thing is we’re not doing the points racing right now. We’re just trying to go out and win races and not think about protecting anything.”