You may be wondering two things about the Brickyard 400 this weekend. First: is Jeff Gordon really as good as he looks this season. And two: how come the driver that has won five times at Indianapolis Motor Speedway does not have the buzz surrounding him?
I’m betting if you asked an average fan of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing who’s the point leader they could possibly answer with Dale Earnhardt Jr or Jimmy Johnson.
He’s Really That Good!
To answer the first question; “YES” he’s really that good! For some reason Jeff Gordon has been all but ignored by fans heading into the Brickyard weekend. I even heard a couple of people calling radio shows commenting on how Gordon was not having the year that he normally would. I’m guessing that after this weekend all of those people that forgot that Jeff Gordon was a great driver suddenly realized that he’s more than capable of winning the Cup Championship this season. In fact, he’s the driver to beat!
Gordon headed into this weekend with one win on the season and two handfuls of great finishes. He’s been a solid staple at the top of the leader board since the season kicked off. Coming into Indy for the Brickyard 400 he realized that a second win of the season was something he and his team needed to know that they could do.
Winning once is one thing – winning twice in one NASCAR season takes more talent than luck. Gordon wanted to show that his team had the tools and the talent to add a second win to their victory earlier in the year at Kansas. Gordon commented that winning his fifth race at Indianapolis, including the first Brickyard 500 back in 1994, was special for him and his family.
"It's such a big place and such an important victory and a crucial moment in the season and the championship, and those emotions take over. I have my kids here. There's nothing better, especially at one of the biggest races, to have your family here. ... This one is for all those fans throughout the years and all weekend long. They're saying, 'We believe you can get number five.' We got number five -- yes!"
The Buzz is Back!
Forget about question number two. The buzz around Jeff Gordon is definitely back. You can bet that any conversation about this season’s race for the chase and possible Championship will include Gordon as one of the drivers that will have to be beat in order for a dark horse pick to win. He’s locked up a chase spot with his second win which was the 90th of his career.
Even Gordon seemed to know that the race was in his hands after a restart which gave him the lead over Kasey Kahne. The restart came after Kahne had dominated much of the race. Gordon, not known for having great restarts, nailed it when it counted.
"God, I finally had the restart of my life," Gordon shouted into his radio after securing the win. And, as if it were a Hollywood movie - it was officially "Jeff Gordon Day!"