Jeff Gordon has not won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in 13 years. That’s after winning four titles in nine years.
Gordon’s performance this season answers the above statements with one of his own: “Yeah. So what?”
With just three races until the Chase begins, Gordon has turned back the clock. By blowing by Joey Logano on a late restart to win at Michigan, the 43-year-old tacked on an exclamation point to a dominant month, marked by a victory at the Brickyard, a sixth-place finish at Pocono and two Coors Light poles. He now leads the series points standings and his three wins rank tied for the most in the series.
“This is exciting,” said Gordon of his stretch – even before winning at Michigan. “To be running this good and have cars that are this great; back-to-back poles from Watkins Glen to Michigan, we’re having a lot of fun right now.”
At the moment, Gordon has the fastest car on the series. Combined with his pure talent and guile developed through 23 years on the circuit, he has seized back his greatness. No driver is as formidable right now.
“I think what I see now with Jeff today is how smart he is,” said Rick Hendrick following Gordon’s victory at Michigan, the 91st of his career (third all-time). “If someone gets in front of him or is trying to block him like they did today, instead of pushing the envelope like maybe he did in the early years, he’ll just back off and let them use their stuff up, then he’ll pass them.”
Hendrick continued to praise Gordon’s technical ability on the track.
“You just don’t see him make mistakes,” Hendrick said. “I think all of his years of experience are paying off for him right now.”
Gordon and his race team are confident, but have been keeping perspective as the Chase looms.
“When things go well and you get better, then you keep going down that path,” Gordon said. “I feel like we started on a good path at the start of the season and we’ve continued to do that up to this point. I think it will even continue through the next 12 or 13 weeks.”
This season, Gordon is tied for the series lead in top 10s (16), and he’s well on his way to surpassing last year’s figures. This year: three wins, eight top fives and 16 top 10s in only 23 races. Last year: one win, eight top fives and 17 top 10s in 36 races.