News & Media

Gordon hoping speed can make up for bad luck

June 23, 2012, NASCAR Wire Service,

SONOMA, Calif. -- Perhaps Jeff Gordon's streak of extraordinarily bad luck would be more palatable if the four-time champion hadn't shown potential race-winning speed on more than one occasion this season.


Gordon is 20th in the Sprint Cup standings, with an uncharacteristically meager four top-10s in 15 races this year. It's not that Gordon has run poorly. It's simply that circumstances have conspired to turn possible strong finishes into poor ones.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s victory last Sunday at Michigan leaves Gordon as the only one of four Hendrick Motorsports drivers without a win this season.

"It's easier when it's just all down," Gordon said. "When there's no ups and downs, you don't have any expectations. I feel like it's really been a test for us. It has not been easy. When you have high expectations on yourself, and your teammates are winning and doing well, and when you're running so good [without the results to show for it], it makes it even more frustrating."

Gordon, who qualified second in Friday's time trials after leading opening practice, again showed excellent speed Saturday at Sonoma. In the first morning practice session, he busted off a lap at 94.312 mph, more than a full mile-per-hour faster than pole-sitter Marcos Ambrose was able to achieve, then led final practice, as well.

* Speeds: Practice 1 | Practice 2 | Practice 3 | Lineup

There's no greater rallying cry for a team than a strong performance, but as Gordon pointed out, he's had to play a much more active role in bolstering the morale of his No. 24 crew this year.

• Engine problems at Daytona, Kansas and Talladega.
• Cut a tire at Bristol and Richmond.
• Pit-road penalty at Fontana.
• Leading on the green-white-checkered at Martinsville, was wrecked on restart.
• Multiple blown tires at Darlington, first came while running eighth.
• Loose wheel at Dover while leading.
• Poor pit-stop strategy at Pocono while running in the top five.
• In the five incident-free races he has typical Gordon numbers: eighth at Phoenix, 12th at Las Vegas, fourth at Texas, seventh at Charlotte, sixth at Michigan.
• He is 20th in points, 83 out of 10th with no wins and four drivers in 11th-20th with wins.
• He has 14 wins at the next four tracks: five at Sonoma, six at Daytona and three at New Hampshire; he finished 10th in his first Kentucky start.

"This year, I've had to do it more on a personal level, one on one and in the team meetings, really kind of stepping out there and putting some words out there that I feel like could be key to keeping us together and getting us through those tough times," Gordon said.