Jeff Gordon down, but not out

Jeff Gordon's failure in three of the first six Chase races has made his fifth series title elusive. Consciously inglorious, the No. 24 team reset their goals for success and said they were concentrating on the 2007 season. What a difference a...

Jeff Gordon's failure in three of the first six Chase races has made his fifth series title elusive. Consciously inglorious, the No. 24 team reset their goals for success and said they were concentrating on the 2007 season.

What a difference a week makes.

With the points shake-up at Martinsville Gordon closed the gap, and while the title remains only an outside chance, Team 24 can allow themselves the luxury of dwelling on possibilities.

"It's been really crazy," Gordon said of the Chase. "To know that we have had three horrible finishes, and are only 141 points out is certainly, that says it all about how crazy it has been. That is what makes the Chase so exciting, you have so many guys that are going to be a part of this thing until the final race in Homestead, and that you are never out of it, and can never give up.

"That is the philosophy that we are taking. Yeah, we are No.9, we are way back, and we have said: "Hey, we've got nothing to lose". We have to be a lot more aggressive, and be bigger risk takers where we are at, but we also know that we are not out of it."

Gordon leads all Chase drivers with the most wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway, with four. After time trials were washed out Friday he will take the green flag from the ninth position. Atlanta is one of the best tracks for Gordon to try and continue his charge to the front of the point standings.

"It is extremely wide open." Gordon continued. "You have four unique tracks that I think you've got guys run good at one or two of them, and another guy that runs good at the other two. It's going to be about the guy who doesn't have problems, or the least amount of problems from here on out, and can be consistent on those four tracks, and that's been the issue with where we are at. We have to go out there and be spectacular, and not have any issues."

While hope has crept back into Gordon's mind he is still levelheaded enough to realize that the teams in front of him are going to have to mess-up considerably if he hopes to make up ground.

"I think that the fact that you have ten guys that are still mathematically in it, you aren't going to have seven guys that are going to have trouble," Gordon explained. "Eighth, ninth, and tenth place guys are going to have to be spectacular, and not have problems. The guys in the top five or six, they just need to be solid and not have a lot of problems, and any of those guys can win it. If I was in the top five or six, I can tell you that I would be playing the points game and I would still be trying to win races, and would be more conservative side to not have problems than I would be on the aggressive side."

Gordon has the experience of four titles on his side. If the No. 24 team can gain a little luck and grasp onto the momentum of their fifth place finish at Martinsville they just may be the long shot in the Chase.

"Martinsville changed it a little bit, because Burton had his problems," Gordon said. "But it is going to take something pretty spectacular for us to get ourselves a real, legitimate shot in Homestead, and I am not saying it can't happen, we are definitely going to push and take chances and get outside the box an try to make that happen, and if it is meant to be, then we will find out."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon