Jeff Gordon rejuvenated heading into Chase

Associated Press  |  Last updated September 12, 2012
The infamous mustache is making a comeback - and Jeff Gordon believes he is, too. The four-time NASCAR champion grabbed the final spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship away from Kyle Busch with a vintage performance last week. He will try to end his long ''Drive for Five,'' starting Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway. It's fair to say he's feeling just a little rejuvenated. ''This is the defining moment for me at this stage of my career,'' Gordon said. ''Not making this Chase could have had devastating results.'' He's in because of a dramatic performance at Richmond. Gordon came in trailing Busch by 12 points and beat him by three, making major adjustments to his Chevrolet throughout and coming on strong after falling a lap behind to finish second in a race hampered by rain. Now, the question is: At age 41 and 11 years removed from his last championship, can he string together 10 strong races to capture title No. 5? If nothing else, he's showing he's a man of his word. Gordon had vowed to bring back the mustache he sported at the start of his NASCAR career if he made the Chase, and his facial hair is once again the talk of the sport. He had a salt-and-pepper 5 o'clock shadow, the early makings of a beard, on Wednesday. He insisted it will be a mustache by the weekend. ''My wife started all this because she reminded me and Twitterville of the commitment I had made a month or month and a half ago,'' Gordon said. ''I meant it when I said it and I hoped that we would be in this position, be in the Chase and sporting the 'stache. So here we go. Get ready.'' Gordon couldn't remember exactly what led to the vow to bring back the mustache, widely ridiculed after its debut when he was a 21-year-old Sprint Cup Series rookie. Bringing it back might have popped into his head from a comment on Twitter. He's not sure. He just remembers the reaction to his promise. ''They were all like, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah,''' he said. ''I have fans all the time on Twitter, off Twitter, other competitors, messaging me, 'Bring back the 'stache.' And I guarantee, it's not because I was cool.'' Other drivers had some tips for Gordon. ''You can't leave out the mullet, too,'' said five-time champion and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson. ''I've seen some discussion on the old trucker hats, but I'm just impressed. ... He's doing it gray and all, so I'm proud of him. He's a lot older now, so I think his mustache is going to be more defined. And he might not be so porn 'stache-ish. There might be a bit more of Tom Selleck or something along those lines.'' Defending champion Tony Stewart joked, ''He's got to bring back the eyebrows, too, to match it. It's got to be a matched set. He had that big 'stache, but if you don't have the eyebrows, it's not going to look right. It's fun for Jeff and it will be for his fans too.'' Those fans will really be loving it if he pulls off the title. At this time last year, Stewart defied his own expectations. He won at Chicagoland after stumbling into the Chase and won five of the 10 races, including the season finale, to tie Carl Edwards for the championship and take the title on the tiebreaker. Can Gordon be this year's Stewart, the guy that gets hot at just the right time even if he is admittedly past his prime? He might have won at Atlanta this month, but instead of knocking winner Denny Hamlin out of his way, he drifted up the banking and allowed him to pull away. Gordon second-guessed himself for that, and he looked like he was in trouble last week before making his push. He figured he had nothing to lose midway through Saturday night's race at Richmond, so why not make some ''wholesale, huge'' changes to the No. 24 Chevy? ''To me, it's classic when I think of (Dale) Earnhardt Sr.,'' Gordon said. ''He would start the race. You'd lap him. By the end of the race, they're winning or coming after you for the win. To me, that's sometimes the box that you put yourself in that can be more beneficial. What we've learned from that is we've got to go out every weekend for these next 10 weeks and be fully committed to pursuing winning. If we're in fifth, we've got to have that same attitude like we're in 26th. We've got to absolutely go after it.''
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Joe Mixon drafted by Bengals; fans boo pick

Vikings land Adrian Peterson’s replacement, trade up for Dalvin Cook

WATCH: Kris Bryant launches moonshot completely out of Fenway Park

Kevin King, alone in green room, taken first in Round 2 by Packers

Felix Hernandez, Mitch Haniger expected to miss 3-4 weeks for Mariners

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

CFL fines head coach for meeting with Johnny Manziel rep

Reuben Foster hung up on Saints when 49ers called him

Packers ‘taking calls’ for No. 33 pick in draft

Bears confirm that Mike Glennon is their starter for the 2017 season

Report: Jets making calls trying to trade Sheldon Richardson

Broncos players take to Twitter to call for team to sign Gary Barnidge

The 'Beast Mode as a parting gift' quiz

Best of Yardbarker: Don't sleep on the Stanley Cup Playoffs

Our favorite undrafted players of all time

Everything you need for the 2017 NFL Draft

Kicking it: Orlando surges while the Galaxy struggles

Three Up, Three Down: Madison Bumgarner gets grounded

Box Score 4/28: NFL Draft gets younger every year

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'NFL Draft Day is finally upon us' quiz

Most memorable 'NFL Draft weekend drama' stories

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Eastern rivalries take center stage

Marshawn Lynch gives an already-spurned city hometown appeal

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Don't sleep on the Stanley Cup Playoffs

The 'Beast Mode as a parting gift' quiz

Everything you need for the 2017 NFL Draft

Our favorite undrafted players of all time

Kicking it: Orlando surges while the Galaxy struggles

Three Up, Three Down: Madison Bumgarner gets grounded

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'NFL Draft Day is finally upon us' quiz

Most memorable 'NFL Draft weekend drama' stories

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Eastern rivalries take center stage

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker