By admin | September 4, 2012
By Richard Allen
Not since Ulysses S. Grant has someone marched toward Richmond with as much fire in his eyes as Jeff Gordon will on Saturday night for the Federated Auto Parts 400. After losing out to Denny Hamlin last weekend in Atlanta, the four time champion may have ignited his own competitive fire on that raceâ€™s last lap.
Obviously frustrated after coming up just short with a bold outside pass attempt, Gordon voiced his anger with himself. “I should’ve just gone in there and run in the back of him and moved him up the track,â€ the driver said in a post-race interview. â€œI’d be sitting in victory lane.â€
Gordon has compiled 86 Sprint Cup victories over the course of a legendary career. But that does not seem to mean that he has grown content to rest on his laurels. However, the 41 year old driver did admit that his style had changed over the years.
â€œFifteen years ago, I would have moved him up the race track,â€ the driver once known as the â€˜Rainbow Warriorâ€™ declared. “I guess I’m just getting soft in my old age. I’m too nice.” Drivers such as Rusty Wallace, Dale Jarrett and Matt Kenseth might be wondering where that nice guy was during the times they were involved in run-ins with this fierce competitor.
But based on the tone of his voice after Atlanta, it would seem as if the not-so-nice Gordon may return this weekend.
The reason for the urgency comes from the fact that Gordon finds himself in the midst a very tight battle for a wildcard entry into this seasonâ€™s Chase for the Championship. NASCAR extends playoff invitations to those drivers who are within the top-10 of the standings after the 26th race of the season. Also, the two drivers with the most wins who are outside the top-10 will be included.
The Richmond race will be the 26th race of the season.
Gordon is tied with four other drivers at one win apiece in the fight for that final wildcard spot. Eleventh place Kasey Kahne has two wins. A win by any of those five drivers would get that driver into the Chase, provided Tony Stewart with his three victories does not fall out of the top-10.
The bottom line is that a win by the #24 car this Saturday night at the Richmond International Raceway would serve this team well. There is little doubt this driver wants that final Chase spot and he wants another championship trophy. Donâ€™t be surprised to see that Jeff Gordon of fifteen years ago make a return with fire in his eyes.
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