Jeff Gordon is currently in the midst of his 22nd NASCAR Sprint Cup season. At the age of 42 the driver of the No. 24 machine should be coming to the end of his career. Apparently Gordon didn’t get that memo because he is off to the best start of his illustrious career. Following his seventh place finish in the Food City 500; Gordon has opened the season with four consecutive top-10 finishes.
Gordon is a four-time NASCAR champion having won his most recent championship in 2001. Since his last championship, Gordon has been on a quest for a fifth championship. This quest was named ‘The Drive For Five’ during the seasons following his last championship. At the time nobody would have guessed that Gordon’s fifth championship would still be eluding him all of these years later.
Before the start of this season Gordon talked about winning that fifth championship and retiring if he won it in 2014. During an interview with ESPN, Gordon shared these thoughts:
If that happened, that would be all the reasons I need to say, ‘This is it. I’m done.’ I go home and I look at my trophy room. I see four trophies, championship trophies. But they say Winston Cup on them. You can name me a four-time Sprint Cup champion for technical reasons all you want, but to me, I’m still not. I want that before my career is over.
Gordon is still racing at a high level which is evident by the fact that he currently sits fourth in the point standings. In recent years critics have began to talk about how Gordon as lost a step. It’s fair to say that he isn’t the same driver he was 15 years ago because no driver is the same as they were 15 years ago. Time has transformed Gordon from a brash and aggressive driver into a wily veteran. Time has also transformed him from one of the most hated drivers into one of the most popular ones. Gordon has won numerous fan polls in recent years, something that never happened back in the day.
Although we are only four races into 2014, you can’t ask for much more out of Gordon and his team. If the No. 24 bunch continues running in the top-10 the wins are eventually going to come. If Gordon is able to run like this when the chase comes than that fifth championship might be a lot closer than he thinks.
The Sprint Cup series will visit California this weekend for the Auto Club 400. This will prove to be an interesting test for Gordon and his team. Although he is a two-time winner at this track, he hasn’t finished inside of the top-10 since 2009. A top-10 finish at California will only further prove that Gordon is turning back the hands of time this season.