The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits Daytona, New Hampshire and Indianapolis this month before heading to Pocono the first weekend of August. No driver must be more thrilled than Jeff Gordon to see these tracks coming up on the schedule.
Gordon has won a combined 13 wins at the three tracks this month and is a threat every year at each race. He's also won a series-leading four races at Pocono.
More than any previous season, Gordon needs at least one win and probably two to make himself a player in the Chase which begins in September in Chicago. He's survived horrible bad luck that has taken wins from him and buried him deep in the standings so far this year.
Gordon finally broke back into the top 20 in the standings a few races ago and is poised to get a win or two and become a threat for the Chase. He's finished in the top six in the last three races.
If Gordon can get a win, he's only 10 points behind his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne for the second wild card Chase berth and could easily get in from that point with his consistent finishes and potentially adding a second win to his resume. If Gordon can rattle off a couple of wins here in the next month in a half, he would surely be in the Chase and possibly have the top wildcard spot with two wins.
I think Gordon and the No. 24 team have Daytona and Indianapolis circled as tracks where they can get these wins. Despite his bad luck over the past five years in Daytona, Gordon has always very strong there. And at Indy, he's arguably the best NASCAR driver to ever compete there.
Gordon has three Coke Zero 400 wins with the last coming in 2004, but he's had strong cars including just this season during Daytona Speedweeks in February. Gordon was in perfect position to win the Bud Shootout, but was taken out near the end in a wild accident that send him flipping through the field. In the Daytona 500 he once again had a great car, but the engine blew near halfway.
At Indy, Gordon has a record four wins in 18 starts with 10 top-5's and 14 top-10's. He's led a lap in 11 of the 18 races with a series-high 476 laps led. In the 18 races he only has one DNF and was a serious threat to win the last several years. With one more win at Indy, Gordon would break the 101-year-old Speedway record with five wins. That would be a remarkable feat and make him the best to have ever raced at the famed 2.5-mile circuit.
I think Gordon will win at least one of the next three races with a possibility of winning two of them. Usually, the summer months are the time of year for Tony Stewart to heat up, but I think Gordon knows the urgency to get in the Chase and will step it up even more to reach victory lane multiple times to get his No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevy in the Chase and become a title contender. It starts this Saturday night in Daytona.