By admin | July 23, 2008
By Richard Allen
Last week, I wrote about Kyle Busch having an historic season because he is on top of the Sprint Cup Series and he is also piling up wins in the Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Seriesâ€™ at the same time.
Jeff Gordon is having an historic season of another sort.
Gordonâ€™s season has been marred with inconsistency. He has managed eight Top 10 finishes this year but at the same time he has had four drives in which he finished 30th or worse.
Perhaps most troubling for Gordon and his fans is that in several runs this year he has made so little noise he has barely been noticeable. It is one thing to run near the front then have bad luck at the end of the race and wind up with a poor finish. It is quite another thing to run all day and hardly be seen. The later scenario indicates the car was never really competitive.
The later scenario has happened a few too many times for the winner of 81 races over the course of his career.
The historic part of the season could come in a bad way for the four time champion.
What could really make the season historic for Gordon is that only one other time in his career since 1994, when he won his first race, has he gone this deep into the year without a win.
In 2002 he did not pick up a win until the 24th race of the season in Bristol. That year Gordon went on to win two more times and finish fourth in the overall standings.
One difference between this season and 2002 is that Gordon had been competitive throughout most of that year up until the time he finally won. This year, that has not always been the case.
There have actually been only a few races in which he appeared to be a serious contender for victory lane. Strangely, it was in the races in which he has seemed most competitive that he has had the worst finishes. Both Daytona races, Talladega and Las Vegas have all been races in which he looked like a winner until bad breaks of one kind or another cost him.
With all that said, Gordon is still solidly in contention to make the Chase for the Championship. Few would be surprised if he and his Hendrick Motorsports team put things together at just the right time for him to win his fifth Sprint Cup title.
Currently, he sits in the 6th spot of the standings, well within the all important Top 12 which qualifies drivers for the Chase.
Twice since the inception of the Chase, Gordon has scored the most points over the whole season but lost the championship due to the new format. Perhaps the â€œRainbow Warriorâ€ will get one back after losing out in 2004 and 2007, the seasons in which he actually scored more points than anyone else but was unable to win out in the ten race playoff system.
While it is possible this season could be an historic one in that Jeff Gordon may go longer than he ever has without a win, he and his fans would forget all about that if he winds up with another championship at the yearâ€™s end, no matter how long he goes without a win.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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