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Jeff Gordon’s struggles continue

By admin | September 15, 2008

By Richard Allen


It is hard to imagine using the term struggle to describe any driver who has made the Chase for the Championship, but when that driver has set the incredible standards of Jeff Gordon the term struggle fits.

Gordon raced to a 14th place finish in Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. While a 14th place finish may not sound that bad on the surface, a deeper look reveals the problem. Gordon was beaten by nine of his 11 fellow Chasers.

During the regular season a driver can withstand a 14th place and not suffer too badly in the standings. In the Chase, however, the objective is to beat the other playoff qualifiers.

To add to the misery, Gordon started the Chase with no bonus points. This is the deepest into a season Gordon has gone without a win since 1994.

The #24 team has to change the fact that they have yet to win soon if they expect to remain in contention for their driver’s fifth Sprint Cup title.

Not only has Gordon not won this season, the Hendrick Motorsports team has had a difficult time trying to find the consistency necessary to challenge for a championship. A look at the season statistics reveals that the #24 car has finished in the Top 10 only twelve times this year, and there have also been five finishes of 30th or worse.

Last year at this time Gordon already had twenty Top 10s and only one result worse than 30th. To say this has not been a Jeff Gordon type year would be an understatement.

To simply blame these struggles on the Car of Tomorrow would seem at least somewhat misplaced. Gordon won three races last year while driving NASCAR’s winged machine. There seems to be some other issue at work here.

Whatever the case, Gordon is not going to claim that fifth title with 14th place finishes. He currently sits in 11th place of the standings, 99 points behind co-leaders Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

Topics: Articles |

6 Responses to “Jeff Gordon’s struggles continue”

  1. Bill B Says:
    September 16th, 2008 at 7:53 am

    I agree with you that Gordon has struggled this year but you have warped the facts to support your argument. Yes, Jeff did finish 14th behind most of the other chase guys but you seem to have left out the real reason WHY he finished 14th. He spent most of the race in the top 10 and had to avoid a wreck with 20 laps to go. This resulted in him having to pit and restart in 18th (I believe). So, in order to justify your premise, you have left that little fact out and make it sound like he was mired back in the field for most of the race. I think you could have found lots of other facts to support your premise but you took the lazy way out.

  2. sam stott Says:
    September 16th, 2008 at 8:00 am

    What has changed with Jeff Gordon is Brian Whitesall was taken away and put on DE Jr’s team. I belleive Brian was the go to brain, for Steve LeTarte. He also crew chiefed Gordon to win while LeTarte was suspended.

  3. Brian Vickers Needs Noogies Says:
    September 16th, 2008 at 10:19 am

    That’s an interesting conjecture. I listen to the radio chatter and I hear Steve Letarte say “well…just do the best you can, buddy” a lot. Personally I like this year better than 2006…that was truly awful even tho JG won twice.

  4. Chris R Says:
    September 16th, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    I’m having my doubts on Letarte’s ability to adjust to this new car. He was pretty good with the old car, but this new car seems to be a curve ball that he just can’t hit. Maybe it’s time for Mr Hendrick to make a few changes for next season and see if that makes a difference.

  5. CMelton Says:
    September 16th, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    I am of the mind that Steve LeTarte is not the crew chief that he is said to be. He needs to be sent on his way and a veteran crew chief put in his place. I really don’t think he knows half of what he thinks he knows. “Just do the best you can, buddy” is not the words I would want to hear as a driver, especially a 4 time Champion. Turn the lights out on your way out the door Steve and don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

  6. SiXX Says:
    September 16th, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    The 24 also was blocked in his pit box twice by the 7.
    Costing him a total of ten spots or so.

    In avoiding the wreck towards the end of the race he also lost some spots. Otherwise JG easily would have finished inside the top ten.

    But that’s racin. And what goes around comes around (robby).