Normally, when someone hears “Big Daddy” it often refers to the classic Adam Sandler movie from years ago. Now, NASCAR has it’s own “big daddy” in the sport, and this season he’s revived his career in ways no one could anticipate.
I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a Gordon fan. Many of you that read this column or have seen me in public know this, and while I keep professional in how I go about doing these articles, there’s always a sense of pride knowing the guy I root for on Sunday afternoons was able to put it all together and take a win. But for the last five years, those wins came few and far between.
Let’s put this into perspective, I started this column in 2009, and entering the 2011 season where I went from giving all coverage to my take on the race itself, Gordon won just one event in the previous three seasons. Now, come 2011, that changed a bit where he seemed like he was getting back into his form, but then 2012 was a dismal season with just two wins and more bad luck than any one team should experience.
Last year was mysterious because despite running strong, he didn’t win a race in the first 26 races, and was just shy of making the Chase. But the following weekend, the sanctioning body said that the odds were too far stacked against his team and there were too many outside instances that kept him from making the Chase, so he was added to it.
He would win just one event that year, and many questioned whether he was in the latter stages of his career.
Before the 2014 season began, he said that if he won this year’s title, he would decide to walk away from this sport, having done everything he set out to do, with the last of those being winning the Chase. Now, I’m not saying that’s added incentive, but if you were to look overall at this year compared to the last few, Gordon has blown away any idea of whether he or his team have lost something. In fact, he’s gained a lot.
He got his first win early in the season, long before the Chase or even the first off-weekend. He won at Indy just a month ago, a record fifth for him, and on Sunday he got his third of the season, tying the amount he’s gotten over the last two seasons combined.
This driver is back atop the standings, is locked in the Chase, and is looking like he did back in the early 2000’s when he won his fourth title.
And also think of this, outside the track things couldn’t be better for him. His wife, Ingrid, is doing very well alongside his two kids, Ella and Leo, and it is added motivation for him to win for his family, because when he won the previous four, he did have a wife, but a year after the final title, he got divorced. Now, he has it all, and he’s showing that he can still get the job done when everything falls into place.
All that is missing now is a Chase trophy, and he wants that even worse than a checkered flag.
RESULTS: 1-Gordon 2-Harvick 3-Logano 4-Menard 5-Earnhardt Jr. 6-Bowyer 7-Hamlin 8-Keselowski 9-Johnson 10-Biffle
NOTABLE FINISHES: 13-Allmendinger 20-Almirola 23-Edwards 31-Kurt Busch 39-Kyle Busch
CAUTIONS: 8 for 37 laps. Lap 5-7 (#18 accident-T1), 22-24 (competition), 26-30 (#7, 10, 14, 20, 21, 32, 51, 78, 83 accident-T1), 38-40 (debris-T2), 98-108 (#42 accident-T4), 169-173 (#2 accident-T1), 175-177 (#55 spin-T4), 180-183 (#41 accident-T1).
LEAD CHANGES: 20 among 8 drivers. Gordon POLE, Logano 1-21, Newman 22-24, Johnson 25-37, LOgano 38-55, Gordon 56, Logano 57, Gordon 58-63, Earnhardt Jr. 64-67, Johnson 68-75, Newman 76-78, Gordon 79-99, Newman 100-107, Logano 108-139, Kurt Busch 140-141, Gordon 142-164, Kurt Busch 165, Keselowski 166-167, Kahne 168-169, Logano 170-183, Gordon 184-200.
TIME OF RACE: 2 Hrs, 49 Mins, 16 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 141.788 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 1.412 Seconds
POINT STANDINGS: 1. Gordon, 816 points*; 2. Earnhardt Jr, -3*; 3. Keselowski, -83*; 4. Logano, -102*; 5. Kenseth, -107; 6. Harvick, -129*; 7. Johnson, -130*; 8. Edwards, -137*; 9. Newman, -137; 10. Bowyer, -144
*Race Winner, Chase Eligible. Those in BOLD are locked into Chase based on points.
Other Chase Eligible Drivers: Kyle Busch (15th, 1 win), Denny Hamlin (20th, 1 win), Aric Almirola (21st, 1 win), A.J. Allmendinger (22nd, 1 win), Kurt Busch (23rd, 1 win)