Jeff Gordon’s Championship 4 status went from near-lock to questionable in an instant on Sunday at Texas after contact from Brad Keselowski cut his rear-left tire, dropping him from first all the way to 29th.
The No. 24 driver now ranks fourth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings – just one point ahead of Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards. If not for the cut tire, he likely would be in first with a hefty lead.
To advance to the Championship race at Homestead, Gordon must either win Sunday’s Quicken Loans Race For Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway (3 p.m. ET on ESPN), finish in the top-three in points at the conclusion of the race, or finish fourth in points and have no Chase-contending driver currently behind him in the standings visit Victory Lane in Arizona.
Gordon can rebound from his hard-luck Fort Worth finish at Phoenix where he has claimed two victories. Both came before the track was repaved and modified, but he does hold three top-10 finishes in the six races since then, including a fifth-place showing in March.
The 43-year-old Gordon is attempting to win his fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. If he is successful in his “drive for five,” Gordon will set the record – 13 years – for most time between titles. He won his fourth NSCS crown in 2001 and ranks fourth on NASCAR’s all-time premier series championship list.