“If it wasn’t for bad luck, we would have no luck.” That certainly can describe the season Jeff Gordon has experienced this year. Anything and everything that could happen to the No. 24 team certainly did.
It all started at Daytona, where he went end-over-end in a wreck for the first time in his career during the Bud Shootout, then a week later the motor in the Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet went up in fire and smoke during the Daytona 500. He cut a tire at Bristol while racing his teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr, then got caught up in a wreck at Talladega where he thought he was clear. Two flat tires followed at Darlington, and then a loose wheel at Dover.
Finally, the summer months seemed to help out, as a string of top-five and top-10 finishes, five of the last six races to be exact.
But victory still eluded him. The team was close, as each week the car he drove was competitive and could be adjusted to be better. Still, victory eluded him, but the confidence never did.
Finally, all the trips to the luck bank that Gordon made this season finally earned him a reward, and if there was ever a fact of karma being seen, Sunday’s race at Pocono proved it.
Rain certainly was on the horizon as the Pennsylvania 400 was already delayed over an hour and a half because of Mother Nature at the beginning of the day, with more coming. Once the event made the halfway mark, things were official, and it was just a matter of how far the drivers would go from there. But, that didn’t mean there was going to be a cruise to victory.
After a late caution, the green waved for what ultimately was the final time. Leader Jimmie Johnson was low, with Matt Kenseth high. Entering the first turn, Johnson slides and gets into Kenseth. Both slide up the banking, taking Greg Biffle into the wall, and soon collecting Denny Hamlin and Jeff Burton. Meanwhile, the cars in third through sixth had to slow up for the incident, and just by a stroke of luck, Gordon stayed low when Brad Keselowski slid up, and slipped into the lead.
Gordon suddenly found himself in a spot he hadn’t seen in a while, but still the issue of when the rain would arrive was on the mind of the team.
Once again, the luck bank decided to make an early deposit, and rain began falling. Teams were brought down pit road, tarps and covers brought out, and a red flag posted. The rain fell harder, and suddenly the monsoon that was expected came falling down like Niagara Falls. The race was shortly called there after, and Gordon found himself in victory lane, celebrating his first win of the season.
Sometimes luck comes when least expected, but often when most needed. Gordon finally had luck come his way, and to top everything off, it was his birthday weekend. He turned 41 on Saturday, with crew chief Alan Gustafson celebrating his own birthday on Sunday. Gordon’s wife, Ingrid, and his two children, Ella and Leo, were at the track, and for the first time got to celebrate “Papa” winning a race.
For Gordon, his luck this season began as being difficult. Now he can clearly state he is the luckiest guy in the garage, at least for one weekend.
AUTHOR NOTE: The storms that halted the race were part of a cell that included 50 mph winds and hail. It was reported after the race had concluded that some fans were struck by lightning in the parking lot of one of the grandstands. One fan passed away because of a lightning strike.
Well wishes go out to those who were struck and survived for a full recovery plus many prayers and condolences to the family of the fan who passed away.
RESULTS: 1-Gordon 2-Kahne 3-Truex Jr. 4-Keselowski 5-Stewart 6-Newman 7-Edwards 8-Bowyer 9-Smith 10-Ambrose
NOTABLE FINISHES: 13-Logano 14-Johnson 16-Harvick 23-Kenseth 29-Hamlin 32-Earnhardt Jr. 33-Kyle Busch
CAUTIONS: 3 for 14 laps. Lap 20-22 (#18 accident-T1), 87-90 (#51 accident-T2), 92-98 (#11, 16, 17, 31, 48 accident-T1).
LEAD CHANGES: 13 among 10 drivers. Montoya 1-7, Hamlin 8-10, Earnhardt Jr. 11-20, McMurray 21-23, Keselowski 24-31, Earnhardt Jr. 32-38, Johnson 39-46, Kenseth 47, Kahne 48, Kurt Busch 49-51, Johnson 52-75, Kenseth 76-78, Johnson 79-90, Gordon 91-98.
TIME OF RACE: 1 Hr, 45 Mins, 34 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 139.249 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: Under Caution
POINT STANDINGS (Top-10, Wild Cards): 1. Earnhardt Jr, 744 points; 2. Kenseth, -5; 3. Biffle, -6; 4. Johnson, -8; 5. Truex Jr, -50; 6. Stewart, -53; 7. Keselowski, -54; 8. Hamlin, -61; 9. Harvick, -63; 10. Bowyer, -65. WILD CARDS: Kahne (11th, 2 wins), Gordon (13th, 1 win).