FIFTH CHAMPIONSHIP STILL POSSIBLE FOR GORDON AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI HOMESTEAD, Fla. It is out of his control, but Jeff Gordon can still capture his fifth NASCAR championship in this Sunday's season finale at Homestead- Miami Speedway. Gordon,...
FIFTH CHAMPIONSHIP STILL POSSIBLE FOR GORDON AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI
HOMESTEAD, Fla. It is out of his control, but Jeff Gordon can still capture his fifth NASCAR championship in this Sunday's season finale at Homestead- Miami Speedway. Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, is 167 behind points leader Jimmie Johnson entering the Ford 400. With 156 points being the maximum deficit a driver can overcome in one race, the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion will have to wait at least another year before hoisting the championship trophy - as a driver. Sunday night could bring a championship celebration of a different kind for Gordon - this time as a championship car owner. Gordon co-owns the No. 48 car with Rick Hendrick and if Johnson captures the championship on Sunday, it will mark Gordon's first in that capacity and Hendrick Motorsports' sixth NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championship as an organization.
Along with Gordon's four championships, Terry Labonte won one for HMS in 1996 - edging teammate Gordon by only 37. "It's amazing to see what Jimmie and the entire No. 48 team have done," Gordon said. "They have been a championship-caliber team from the beginning, and Rick Hendrick deserves a lot of the credit. "I can take credit for talking Rick into hiring Jimmie, but Rick is the guy who provides us with great leadership and all the tools needed to win. "I'm still a racer and would prefer to be battling Jimmie for the championship. But, since we're not in contention, we're hoping our teammate wins it for Hendrick Motorsports."
Although he has never won in NASCAR's premier series at the 1.5-mile track, Gordon has posted three top-five and six top-10 finishes in seven starts. Last year, he led 39 laps en route to a ninth-place finish. While Gordon may have been eliminated from championship contention, another strong run this weekend can shake up the standings. He is only 52 points behind fifth and 104 behind second place. "Our season isn't over, yet," said Gordon. "We still have an opportunity to move up in the standings, and we're looking forward to this Sunday's race. "We've run well here recently, and our intermediate program has definitely improved since last year. "Hopefully, Hendrick Motorsports is celebrating a championship and a race win on Sunday."