Amazing determination earns Gordon and the No.24 team a chase berth
By Barry Albert On Sun, Sep. 09, 2012
Jeff Gordon drove the No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet to a second place finish on Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway and placed himself into the chase for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
“It was amazing. I still can’t believe we actually did it. I know how proud Rick is to have all four teams into this Chase. That was a big goal of ours. Pretty amazing to know we accomplished that.” Gordon said.
It was not easy for Gordon though. Gordon started the race second and took the lead briefly from polesitter and teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. briefly before dropping back in the pack and then later losing a lap.
“We just flat out missed the setup at the beginning. Luckily Alan and the engineers got together and found the tools that we could utilize to make the car better. The biggest thing is that rear bar, we just had to get rid of it. We did that. We cut the chain. Our car really started coming to us right then. We finally got some drive off.” Gordon said.
Thanks to Mother Nature prevailing again, Gordon got his lap back after another red flag for rain. Gordon restarted the race in last place of the cars on the lead lap, but quickly made his presence known. With fresh tires and pure determination, Gordon worked himself all the way back up into second place and earned the final position in the chase, 12th.
“All the things that have gone for us this year, everything went right for us tonight. We had some guys stay out there on tires on basically that last caution that really cost them good finishing positions. We came in and got tires at that time. We were able to drive up through there. Had a good racecar.” Gordon said.
Gordon delivered a message to the competition on Saturday night. During the final ten races, Gordon is not planning on making this championship easy for any one else.
“To me, after you have that kind of effort, fall back, then come up there and finish second, almost win the race, make it in by one point, man, I don’t see any reason why we can’t go over these next 10 races and be a real threat for the championship.” Gordon said.
Also all three Hendrick Motorsports teammates also earned their place in the chase. Jimmie Johnson will start second and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start 7th.
“We’ve been consistent all year long. We just hope we can keep that up. I think it’s going to take a couple wins to win a championship outright.” Earnhardt Jr. said of his chances of making the chase.
Kasey Kahne will start the chase in 11th position.
“I’m just really, really happy and excited to be able to do that. Hendrick Motorsports, Mr. Hendrick, gives us great opportunity to win races and run up front, the way the season started, to fight back, make it into the Chase.” Kahne said.