Jeff Gordon Encouraged By His Chicagoland Effort

Jeff Gordon Encouraged By His Chicagoland Effort

by September 20, 2015 0 comments

JOLIET, Ill. — Leading up to the Chase, the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports entry piloted by Jeff Gordon hadn’t quite hit its stride with inconsistent results dogging the team.

Positive runs such as a third at Pocono in August and a sixth at Daytona in July were sandwiched between the mediocre (16th at Sonoma and 21st at Michigan in June) and the just plain bad (42nd at Indianapolis and 41st at Watkins Glen.)

The inconsistency placed Gordon as the 13th seed entering Sunday’s 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Despite the numeral next to his name in the drivers standings before the drop of the green flag, Gordon came home with a solid performance that may be signs of better things to come for the four-time champion.

Leading 41 laps of the race – a numeral he hadn’t matched since Talladega in May – Gordon sat in a prime position to potentially claim his first win of the season as he sat on the front row for the final restart of the race with five laps to go. The driver of the Axalta Chevrolet was left waiting for another week, however, as Gordon wound up spinning the tires and dropped outside of the top-10 by the conclusion of the race.

Although the 14th-place result wasn’t representative of the strength to come out of the No. 24 camp on Sunday, it has certainly left Gordon encouraged for what’ll be his final nine races as a full-time driver.

“Oh, I’m very encouraged by that,” Gordon said. “I like this race track. I thought the team brought an excellent race car. They work extremely hard. Everybody at Hendrick Motorsports has been collectively working together and I think it showed with our No. 24 car today.”

When reflecting on the final restart that could have yielded him his 93rd career series victory, Gordon admitted that he knew he was going to have a tough time keeping his car underneath him on the start.

“I knew we were going to have a tough time not spinning the tires,” Gordon said. “On old tires like that, it’s pretty easy to spin the tires, especially when you’re on the front row. So, I was just trying to hold pace with Kurt (Busch, the third-place finisher.) I knew that I had Denny (Hamlin, race winner) behind me on older tires as well, so I was somewhat encouraged by that.

“He got a good run on me. I blocked him. He was pushing me down and we were on the apron. I felt like I did a good job, but I just came up off the apron a little bit too early and he was able to just motor right on by me on the inside.”

Concluding his recount of the final restart, Gordon stated that the strength he showcased at Chicagoland is indicative of what he and his Hendrick crew will be bringing to the track not only for the next two races in the Challenger Round, but for the rest of the season.

“I’m very encouraged about how the Axalta Chevrolet was today, the whole team, and that’s what we’ll be bringing every single week,” Gordon said. “Hopefully, we won’t have to worry about some of these late cautions ruining our day like that.”

Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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