NASCAR Notes: Gordon’s Drive For Five Is Very Much Alive
BY DAVE GRAYSON
For more than a few years now, four time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon has been laying the ground work for that fifth championship ring. It’s a campaign that the Hendrick Motorsports driver has referred to as the “Drive For Five.” Jeff Gordon fans have every reason to be excited. Going into next weekend’s race at the Texas Motor Speedway, Gordon’s championship hopes appears to be very promising. The “Drive For Five” is very much alive.
His 2014 season stats to date are a strong indication of why Gordon is such a prominent figure in NASCAR’s Chase For The Championship. Coming off of last weekend’s strong finish at Martinsville, Gordon has compiled four wins, 13 top five finishes, 21 top ten finishes and two poles. Those stats compute to a healthy 10.1 average finish ratio and a driver rating of 109.3. He also led the field in 24 races for a total of 873 laps.
His second place finish, last weekend at Martinsville, has placed him on top of the Chase points standings. He’s also seven points ahead of fifth place in the points.That’s very important because after the upcoming race at Phoenix the eight championship contenders will be trimmed down to the final four drivers who will compete in the winner take all championship round at the Homestead Miami Speedway.
Next weekend’s Sprint Cup race at the Texas Motor Speedway is certainly going to be a pressure cooker for all of the championship contenders. Gordon and his #24 team are well aware that mistakes, on and off the track, will have to be avoided. A prime example of that occurred at Martinsville where Gordon was caught speeding on pit road. He found himself going from 1st to 30th in the line up. Obviously, it all turned out good but a mistake at Texas could compromise championship ambitions. Seeking that sometimes elusive error free race is a part of the pressure associated with NASCAR’s new championship system.
Commenting on the new Chase system, after the Martinsville race, Gordon pointed out that racing both hard and smart is a must adding “that’s the toughest part about this thing, you’ve got to go for it. You have to put everything out on the edge but if you go too far over the edge you might be out. There’s a very fine line there.”
Gordon’s racing stats at the Texas Motor Speedway are, at the most, respectable. He’s only has one win there in 27 starts along with nine top five finishes and 12 top tens. His average finish ratio in the Lone Star State is 17.2 with a driver rating of 92.3 which ranks him ninth in the series.
However there are some strong factors here that could help over the Texas numbers. Chief among them is the strengths of team 24. The shop at Hendrick Motorsports has been building some strong cars and engines as of late. In turn, those cars are mostly well prepped and solid right out of the box. The pit road team, led by crew chief Alan Gustafson, has been on fire with solid pit stops and adjustment calls.
Even Las Vegas believes in Jeff Gordon. The professional analysts at “The Las Vegas Insider” has Gordon ranked third on their list, at 5 to 1 odds, to win at Texas next Sunday.
However, the one factor that cannot be denied is a seemingly strong rejuvenation in this driver. He is completely focused on winning his next championship. You can see it in this driver’s eyes, you can hear it in his voice during interviews and there even seems to be an extra spring in his step. Jeff Gordon’s Drive For Five is, very much, alive.