With the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series being in the midst of its Chase for the Sprint Cup championship postseason — the circuit is three races into the 10-race Chase and embarks on round two this weekend at Kansas Speedway — Jeff Gordon continues to be a name thrown around in talk of favorites to win the 2014 title. And his name bouncing around makes perfect sense. After all, he headed into the Chase as a three-time winner, and he advanced to round two with a fourth win last weekend at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
A 2014 championship for Gordon would be his fifth, but a first since 2001. Something worth noting — Gordon’s 2014 season, so far, has been strikingly similar to that 2001 season. Sure, there are differences, a couple of the biggest being the absence of a Chase and the championship name; it was the Winston Cup back then. And that Jimmie Johnson guy who has that annoying habit of winning all the time? In 2001, we were a year away from his first full-time season on the circuit.
There are other slight differences, too. Gordon won six times back in 2001. So far in 2014, he has four trips to victory lane. But then again, there are still seven races left, so the guys in position to possibly win a couple more races. He also claimed six poles in 2001, to the two, to this point, in 2014.
The reason his 2014 is similar to 2001? The tracks at which he won. As I mentioned before, Gordon has four wins, so far, this season. The locations of three of those wins are tracks where he was also victorious in 2001. In 2001, Gordon won at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Dover, Michigan International Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and Kansas.
Jump into your DeLorean and travel back to the future, err present, a.k.a. 2014. By the way, if you really have a DeLorean, I think that’s somehow kind of cool in a cheesy kind of way. Okay, back to the subject at hand. This year, Gordon has won at — wait for it — Kansas, Indianapolis, Michigan and Dover.
Okay, so Gordon didn’t win at Las Vegas or Watkins Glen this year. But look at where he did win. Doesn’t that list look familiar? It should. If not, scroll back up a little — or glance back up a little — and look at the list of tracks where Gordon won in 2001. Aren’t all four of these tracks on that list? I thought so.
Kind of eery, isn’t it? Actually, if you’re a Gordon or a Gordon fan, it’s probably pretty darn cool. After all, the 2001 season ended with Gordon hoisting a Winston Cup championship trophy. Will 2014 end the same way? That’s looking like a distinct possibility at this point.
Oh, another difference I forgot. The championship party back then was in New York. Gordon’s never celebrated a title in Las Vegas. There’s no time like the present, or like the end of the year. Just wondering, will a fifth Cup motivate Gordon to dust off those breakdancing skills?
Okay, time to jump back in that DeLorean (again, kudos if you really have one) and check out this photographic look-back at Gordon’s 2001 season (photos courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR). Just don’t forget to get that DeLorean up to 88 mph and make that return trip back to the present, Marty McFly.
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