The cars racing at Pocono Raceway. Image by Joe Skirkie
By Jonathan Fjeld
TheRacingExperts.com Lead Reporter
Sunday was a great day for Hendrick Motorsports, Jeff Gordon, NASCAR historians, and most of all, Jeff Gordon fans. Sunday marked a win for Jeff at the "Tricky Triangle". It also was his 84th career win, which tied him with Bill Elliott and Denny Hamlin at Pocono for most wins with five. The win was his 2nd win of the year. This means Jeff will have his first multiple win season since 2007, a year where the 24 team finished second in points. In that year, Jeff won 6 races and scored a series record 30 top-10 runs. He lost the championship at Homestead by 77 points. So this rises a few questions: Is Jeff back? Could Jeff be a legitimate championship contender? What's next?
I think right now Jeff is at one of the best places right now this year and in the best place in years. Despite being 11th in points right now, he can get in the top 10 and possibly top 5 by the Chase cutoff. The win at Pocono was a big momentum booster for the team. If they can take advantage of it and not struggle like they did after Phoenix, Jeff Gordon and Alan Gustafson will be one team to watch. As Marty Smith said on the Monday Roundtable Edition of NASCAR Now, "Jeff [Gordon] is stepping out of the 'Ray Evernham Era', essentially.".
However, Alan Gustafson's last success season was back in 2009 with Mark Martin where he too finished 2nd to Jimmie Johnson in the championship. The following year, Mark would fall off. Mark would go from 5 wins the year before and in the Chase to 0 wins and out of the Chase. This could mean trouble for Jeff Gordon. But, if Alan and Jeff work together, communicate, and have chemistry, it may just work. Jeff could be a legitimate championship contender as long as the chemistry and communication is there.
It's gonna be fun to watch as a BIG Jeff Gordon fan to see what happens in the next 23 races of the season and all of next season. Best of luck to Jeff and the whole 24 team!