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Jeff Gordon’s Title Hopes Come to a Close at Phoenix

Jeff Gordon’s Title Hopes Come to a Close at Phoenix

by November 9, 2014 0 comments

Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Jeff Gordon’s championship hopes for 2014 drew to a close on Sunday afternoon as the four-time champion was eliminated from the Chase following the Quicken Loans Race Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Gordon’s quest for a fifth series championship’s chances looked iffy prior to a 12-lap restart that ultimately was the final green-flag sprint to the finish with the way his fellow Chase contenders sat on the race track.

With Gordon restarting second, the two ways he could advance to Homestead were by either winning the race or by hoping that one of the drivers in front of him in the standings would drop out of a transfer position.

During the final green-flag stint, Gordon’s championship hopes rested on the shoulders of Ryan Newman, who sat in a tie in the points with Gordon leading up to the final lap. If the race were to finish with Gordon and Newman tied in points, Gordon would have advanced on a tiebreaker based off of his second-place finish at Martinsville.

The tie between the two drivers would break on the final corner of the final lap as Newman had a run on Kyle Larson into Turn 3 and booted the rookie out of the way for position.

During his post-race press conference, Gordon stated that even though Newman’s move was one that took the driver of the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet out of the championship running, he feels as if it wasn’t a move that was over the line.

“It was acceptable last week, it’s acceptable this week,” Gordon said. “I mean, don’t think that that’s not going to come back to you, you know. I mean, I could have taken out Harvick, too, to make it in, but I didn’t.”

With his ‘drive for five’ over for the 2014 season, Gordon reaffirmed his pride in his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports crew not only for their effort in the Quicken Loans Race Heroes 500, but throughout the whole season as well.

Statistically, Gordon is currently in his best season in five years in terms of top-five and top-10 finishes and his best in terms of wins since 2007.

“I’m really proud of the effort, not just today but throughout this whole season and the Chase,” Gordon said. “I couldn’t be more proud of this team and the effort that they put out. Today was another one of those ‑‑ I mean, Kevin was in another zip code. There was no touching him.  But to come out of here second, I really thought second would get it done, but obviously it didn’t.

“We did everything that we could, other than have a faster race car than Kevin.  That was near impossible.  But yeah, it’s disappointing. It makes last week that much even tougher to swallow, but that’s all right, we put in a great effort at Martinsville, great effort here, and it just wasn’t enough. Some things are out of our control, and I felt like we did a great job putting all the effort into the things that we could control.”

Gordon heads into next Sunday’s Ford Ecoboost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway seeking his second win at the mile-and-a-half speedway and the 93rd of his career. Gordon is still eligible to earn a final position of fifth in the drivers’ standings exiting next week’s final race of the season.

Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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