By admin | September 13, 2012
By Richard Allen
With the Chase for the Championship about to begin, it’s that time when everyone takes time to evaluate the twelve drivers and teams to have qualified for the playoff. One of those drivers has to be considered somewhat of a surprise that he is among the field in contention for the 2012 Sprint Cup title.
At the beginning of the season, many would no doubt have included Jeff Gordon among those who might contend for a championship. However, after only a few weeks of the campaign had been completed, the future Hall of Fame driver appeared to be buried so deep in the standings that the most miraculous of comebacks would be needed to provide any sort of chance to make the Chase.
Gordon’s season got off to the rockiest of beginnings when a fiery blown engine relegated to the four time Sprint Cup champion to a 40th place finish. Things hardly got better from there as the #24 Hendrick Motorsports team registered six results of 20th or worse over the next ten races. After a 35th place in Darlington, Gordon ranked 24th overall in the season standings.
It became obvious at that point that Gordon would have to rely on the wildcard to make the season ending playoff. That meant a win would be essential considering that the two drivers outside the top-10 to have scored the most wins would be offered a special exemption into the Chase.
A rain shortened race in the 21st event of the season in Pocono provided Gordon with that necessary win. From that point, the driver was able to get himself in front of all others with a single victory and earn the second of those two invitations. A miraculous come from behind 2nd place in Richmond this past weekend served as a microcosm of his season and gave Gordon the points needed for the unlikely recovery.
If Jeff Gordon should go on from this point to grab his fifth championship, it could well be his greatest drive ever. And that’s for a driver who has 86 total wins and four championships at NASCAR’s highest level. This comeback seems to have rekindled some of the old fires that once powered this driver to some of the greatest heights ever achieved by a race car driver so don’t count the man once known as the Rainbow Warrior out.
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