By admin | April 11, 2010
By Richard Allen
It’s almost becoming the story of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. It seems as though Jeff Gordon and crew chief Steve Letarte have found the combination to put themselves in contention for victories, but they just can’t seem to finish the deal.
In Las Vegas, Gordon led 219 of the 267 race laps. He clearly had the dominant car which offers proof that Letarte and the #24 Hendrick Motorsports crew had prepared an excellent car for the race. However, a late race caution brought about the need for a key decision to be made. Jimmie Johnson’s team opted to put four new tires on their car while Gordon’s team went with two tires only.
Johnson won in Las Vegas while Gordon went on to place 3rd.
Another instance of late race decision making again cost the #24 Chevrolet a win in Martinsville. Gordon had led 92 laps in that race, once more proving his team could prepare a contending car.
In this case, a late race caution led to an eventual green/white/checkered finish. Gordon’s team opted to stay out on old tires along with several other teams. Denny Hamlin pitted for four new Goodyears. In the end, after a bumping session with Matt Kenseth, the ‘Rainbow Warrior’ was foiled again.
Hamlin won in Martinsville while Gordon again settled for 3rd.
This past Saturday in the Subway Fresh Fit 600 in Phoenix, Gordon once more found himself in a late race decision making situation. This time, the team’s decision was the same as the eventual race winner. But the #24 still came up just short.
Both Ryan Newman and Gordon took on two tires in the final pit stop. However, Newman muscled his way to the lead and held Gordon off in the end.
Newman won in Phoenix while Gordon and Letarte just missed…again.
What ought to offer encouragement to the many fans of Jeff Gordon is that he continues to find himself in these late race situations. For however frustrating it may be that he has been unable to come out on top in 2010, at least he is there in the midst of the action at the front of the pack.
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Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.
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