News & Media


Good result for Gordon, but not much of a dent

September 24, 2012, David Caraviello, NASCAR.com

No. 24 team only able to shave two points off deficit despite third-place finish

LOUDON, N.H. -- He won the pole, led a few laps, and ran toward the front. Jeff Gordon did almost everything he could Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to rebound from last week's disappointing opener to the Chase.

And the net gain was two points.

On an afternoon that emphasized the depth of the hole Gordon fell into after his crash last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, the four-time champion finished third Sunday and still gained only a small amount in what shapes up as a long and slow climb back toward championship contention.

"We just have had everything thrown at us this year, and I think it's made us stronger and more prepared to handle these type of things."

--JEFF GORDON

"It's not going to happen in one week," Gordon said. "Our goal was to have a strong finish and chip away at it, and it's about eight more weeks of this. Not one more week."

He might need all eight, especially if so many of the other Chase drivers continue to perform as well as they did Sunday. Title contenders swept the top seven spots at New Hampshire, making it even more difficult to gain ground in the championship race. Gordon came to the Granite State 47 points off the lead after his hung throttle and subsequent crash a week earlier. He left 45 back, and still last among the 12 drivers in the playoff.

That modest gain aside, Gordon left New Hampshire buoyed by a strong run that he absolutely needed to keep any slim title hopes alive.

"[Sunday] was crucial to have that kind of a finish and result," he said. "You know, on one hand you look at it and say, man, we let a top-five get away from us. Last week we were running fourth when we had the problem, and then this week we come back and finish third. So, you know we are just going to fight from here on out and try to get some consistent finishes and win races and fight and battle. I mean, this team has gotten kind of used to this stuff all year long. We just have had everything thrown at us this year, and I think it's made us stronger and more prepared to handle these type of things, even when the pressure is on for the championship."

Indeed, Gordon has climbed out of a deep hole once already this season, rallying from a problem-plagued start to the year and a points position of 24th in the spring to win a race and take the second Chase wild-card spot by three points over Kyle Busch. The difference is that then, he had 15 races to make up the difference. Now he has eight left.

"We are going to have to win a lot and gain a lot and keep these top results like today going, and then we are going to have to need some help," he said. "This is the first step to process. I mean, this is definitely what we needed to do here, and it's great. And we'll try to keep this going, and hopefully we can win some races along the way, as well. But it's still going to take a miracle for us to win the championship."

Sunday, Gordon got almost all he could out of what he admitted was a race for second, given how strong winner Denny Hamlin was on the one-mile oval. Had the mechanical issue not surfaced at Chicago, Gordon almost certainly would be in the thick of it. Now, he has a long way to go and a short time to get there.

"It's one at a time," he said. "There's no doubt we can get ourselves back into this. We're a strong team with fast race cars, and we've just got to consistently put those results together like we're capable of, and who knows where we can get to in the points."