When Jeff Gordon was celebrating his fourth NASCAR Championship, in seven years, pundits predicted he would reach the exalted record number of seven of Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt. Today he’s still looking for number five.
NASCAR’s bigger problem, at the time of birth of the Chase to the Cup, was that the points system rewarded consistency over outright victories even to a greater extent than it does today. To keep interest in the points’ race and combat television viewership of NFL football, the Chase was invented.
All of Gordon’s titles came under the old system.
“But the Chase has changed things,” said Gordon in a regularly scheduled teleconference. He added “this format, I think, doesn't suit my style quite as well as the old one but I'm as hungry and as eager as I've ever been to get the championship, because it's something I feel like I've never accomplished and this team has never accomplished and it's something that we desperately want to do.
We know because our teammates won the last three, and this year, two of our teammates are right in it, that we have got as much of a shot at it as anybody else, as well.”
The key to winning the Cup, says Gordon, boils down to being good at the tracks in the Chase because the others don’t matter as much. In 2007 he won seven races but was runner-up to teammate, Jimmie Johnson. He led going into the Chase, but, the points reset hurt him.
“You have to be good at all of the tracks to win the championship. The timing of it, you know, you can have a great year, you can win as many races as want, but you've got to have everything going your way in those final ten,” he explained.
Photos: Philippe Champoux - Auto123.com