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Pedley: Gordon Was No. 2 And Loving It

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, August 1 2011

Jeff Gordon pits during Sunday's race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Tammy Kelly Pope)

Indianapolis – It had to enough to make the win-at-all-costs guys puke. Jeff Gordon actually smiling and laughing and admitting to be happy after finishing second in a sporting event. A big, huge pro sporting event at that.

But there he was Sunday afternoon after getting that runner-up finish at the Brickyard 400, not looking or sounding anything like the first loser.

“It was awesome,” Gordon said. “What a fun race for us.”

While Vince Lombardi probably never did say the famous line for which he is credited, the one about winning being the only thing, he was probably shouting for wife Marie to bring him the Tums as he looked down from above on post-race interviews at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

But Gordon’s happiness at finishing second was not about “settling” for second place. It was about looking at the big picture. Not just the season-wide big picture, but the four-time Sprint Cup champion’s career-wide big picture.

Gordon, who led four times for 36 of the 160 laps of the 400, and who would have won had Paul Menard somehow found away to squeeze an impossibly long fuel run out of his Richard Childress Chevrolet, saw nothing less than concrete reasons for hope with his run at Indy.

Jeff Gordon is back in championship form. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

“It says a lot,” Gordon said of being No. 2 but not running like, well, No. 2 in a potty-humor sense. “Obviously we wanted to win this race, but we also wanted to make a statement.  I think we certainly did that.”

And that statement is that Gordon, new crew chief Alan Gustafson and the rest of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 team is ready to rage again.

“You know, this team is for real,” Gordon said. “We showed that today.  You always hear about people talking about, you know, the team that wins here at Indy, their chances for the championship.

“While we didn’t win, I think we definitely showed that we’re a championship caliber team.  We’ve been knocking on the door, getting closer every single weekend, won a couple races.  For me this is going to be a huge boost for this race team and hopefully a bit of a statement to the competition as well that we’re serious about our efforts at a championship this year.

“If we can run like we did today here at Indy, you know, I know we’re capable of winning just about anyplace we go.”

And that includes places like Chicagoland Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. You know, places where they have Chase races.

Gordon has already won twice this season. He’s seventh in points.

He’s a lock for a Chase berth and not just because of those numbers. He’s a lock because he and his team are performing at a Chase level and only some really bad luck at the hands of some thick-headed goof can derail him and Steve Wallace is not driving in the Cup series.

With his performance at Indy, the 24 team have gone from thinking they can still compete for championships to knowing they can.

“When they dropped the green, I knew we had a car that could win this race,” Gordon said. “It was a lot of fun.

“It was just a lot of fun.  It’s been a while since we had a car like that here at Indy.  Just a flawless effort by the team.  The pit stops were fantastic.  I thought Alan called a great race.  When we came off pit road the last time, we were able to get ahead of Harvick, I thought that was a huge moment for us.  That put us in position to win.”

Winning championships can be really fun, you see.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, August 1 2011
2 Comments

2 Comments »

  • jerseygirl says:

    I really wanted Gordon to win the Brickyard for the 5th time, especially because he drove such a great race and because it would mean a lot to him, I wasn’t unhappy with 2nd either for all those same reasons.

    And what I would really like to see is Jeff Gordon win that 5th championship as well, even if it is under the made for TV chase. After all, from my perspective as a long time Gordon fan, he’s already won 5 and 6 over a full season’s points system.

    • jude24 says:

      You got that right Jerseygirl!! Don’t even get me started on the subject of championships 5 & 6. Too bad Jeff was such a
      prolific professor when Jimmie showed up on the scene. Who would have EVER thought Jimmie would take right over where Jeff left off and plow right over all of them. I guess sometimes that’s what a person’s generous nature does for them. We must keep our chins up…Jeff is back in a very big way!! He made the end of the Brickyard more than interesting and us sitting on the edge of our seat, or running around the room jumping up and down!
      Happy 40th to Jeff August 4th, and Happy 55th to my husband…
      as he likes to say, “No one can drive like a Leo!!”