Put yourself in the shoes of 40-year-old stock car racing sensation, and one of the top winning NASCAR drivers of all time, Jeff Gordon, and see how you would feel if you nearly won the Sprint Cup Championship back in 2007, only to come in second behind your teammate for Hendrick Motorsport, Jimmie Johnson, what it feels like to have been virtually winless while in the chase for four years and running.
He will tell that it is getting old (not winning cups that is), and it’s starting to make him feel old, too. This year, Gordon is predicting that it will once again be a championship year for the vet, even if he is feeling a bit old and even if he says that stock car racing is a “a young man’s sport.”
After a near cup win was dashed by his teammate back in 2007, it seems that the loss beset Gordon for the few years that followed. In 2008, he did not have any wins. In 2009 he had one. And in 2010 he was winless again. Then, he spurred back and won three races in 2011. But still, all of those wins combined did not add up to the six that he had when he last contended for the cup in 2007, only to be bested by Johnson.
While he has been in chase each year that followed 2007, and is always a stock car racing driver to keep your eyes on, a climb to third place in points last year quickly vanished, with Tony Stewart earning the Victory Lane kiss at the end of it all.
His latest weapon is found in his new crew chief, Alan Gustafson, whose aim is to help Gordon win his fifth Sprint Cup Championship in 2012.
“We’ve got the team to do it,” Gustafson told Fox Sports.
After three wins in 2001 and a third place standing, Gordon is reeling back from dismay. But Gustafson thinks that 2012 is also Gordon’s year for his fifth cup.
“I think Jeff and Tony are two of the few people who can do that,” Gustafson told Fox Sports. “What Tony did (winning the cup in 2011) was very inspirational to everyone.”
All things considered, Gordon looks as good as he ever has this year.