Jeff Gordon made history today, something that only a select few can actually say. The sport of NASCAR is constantly changing, but one thing is clear, Gordon has not. Born on August 4th, 1971, the nearly 40 year old NASCAR driver has shown once again he has what it takes to compete in this series.
When making my fantasy picks for this weeks Pocono race, I should have considered a driver like Gordon. The stats don’t lie when mentioning Gordon’s name with some of Pocono’s elite. The 24 machine has always ran consistent at the “Tricky Triangle”, but 2011 seemed like a totally different beast than in previous years. Teams that weren’t necessarily good a year ago are suddenly contending for wins, which you have to take into affect.
When I asked NASCAR fans who they thought would win today’s race on twitter, most of the feedback I received was driver Denny Hamlin. I didn’t pick the 11 team for the same reason why I didn’t want to pick Gordon, I wasn’t sure if they could actually compete for the win here. Both of these drivers have an unbelievable track record at Pocono, but based on how the majority of their season has transpired, there is still always that chance of a below par finish.
Gordon had won at this unique track a total of four times previously, only one win behind driver Bill Elliott. As the race was almost completely dominated by Hamlin, Gordon continued to stay in the mix. I knew if Gordon could stay out of trouble, and not have any technical issues like so many drivers were experiencing, he would be there in the end.
Gordon was in a perfect spot to take over P1, as most drivers were completing their last stop for fuel. Once Gordon took over the spot, there wasn’t any looking back, as he cruised to a 2sec advantage over Kurt Busch.
So many have questioned whether Gordon can still compete, whether he should retire, today was a true testament of how Gordon belongs in this sport, as long as he is giving his team a chance of winning the Sprint Cup championship he deserves to stay.
Not only was this Gordon’s second win of the 2011 season, which practically guarantees him a spot in the chase, it is also his 84th NASCAR Sprint Cup career victory, putting him third all time on the wins list. Tied with Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison, Gordon knows he is in some elite company. When asked what Gordon thought about his 84 wins, ”I really can’t even express in words what it means to tie Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison at 84 wins because I just never thought it would ever happen for me, or really when I got in this sport for anybody to win that many races is amazing.
Winning the 5-Hour Energy 500 from Pocono is a big deal, but it is also important to remember these records Gordon continues to break. 84 career victories, winning Pocono five times, goes to show how important Gordon is to this sport we all love.
So next time when you hear one say, “It’s about time for Gordon to hang it up, he just doesn’t have it anymore”, just remember Gordon is NASCAR’s past, present, and future all wrapped up into one, something many drivers will never be able to say.