Gordon Back In Wild Card Hunt
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – So who’s got the golden horseshow now?
That would be Jeff Gordon, who went from Chase purgatory to provisional “wild card” qualifier in the blink of an eye last Sunday at Pocono Raceway.
Transfer the word “luckless” from Gordon to Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson. Johnson’s dominant day at the “Tricky Triangle” ended in the Turn 1 spin that literally opened the door for the trailing Gordon, who ended a 31-race winless streak with his 86th career victory.
Luck notwithstanding, results are the only things that count.
With his post-season hopes fading rapidly, Gordon bypassed three “wild card” rivals and would join HMS teammate Kasey Kahne were the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field be set today.
Gordon can identify with Johnson. He’s also had fast cars – and nothing to show for it due to flat tires, bizarre mechanical failures and other issues outside the driver’s control. The last seven races, however, have seen something of a renaissance. Gordon still ranked outside the top 20 – and ineligible for a “wild card” – following June’s Pocono race.
He’s now 13th in the standings, 68 points out of the top 10. While he’s scored the same number of points (611) as one-time winner Ryan Newman, Gordon holds the best-finish tie-breaker (two fifths to Newman’s one).
Gordon also became Hendrick’ fourth winner of the season marking the first time since 2007 each of the team’s drivers posted at least one victory.
Where there’s a winner, there’s a loser. And Kyle Busch is that guy.
Busch provisionally held the second “wild card” but tumbled from 11th to 15th place, two points positions ahead of Joey Logano, June’s Pocono winner.
It has been an uncharacteristic season for Busch, who hasn’t won fewer than three times in each of the past four seasons since joining Joe Gibbs Racing in 2008. Busch’s only victory this year came in May at Richmond Int’l Raceway.
Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen Int’l offers good and bad news. The top 10 appears virtually set with Kahne 57 points behind 10th-place Clint Bowyer. Bowyer won June’s road race in Sonoma, Calif.
Gordon has four victories at The Glen, the last in 2001. His record since hasn’t been exactly stellar – two top 10s and an average finish of 20.1.
Busch won at The Glen in 2008 and is the most recent to sweep both series road races.
Newman and Logano continue to pursue their first road course wins.
There is hope for several non-winning drivers among or close to the top 20. Marcos Ambrose (18th) and Juan Pablo Montoya (21st) are the 2.45-mile track’s most recent winners although neither could translate those victories into Chase qualification. Montoya won the Coors Light Pole a week ago at Pocono.
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