Jeff Gordon can’t afford to have a bad weekend in the next two races.
He finds himself 13th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings and a finish outside the top 10 could keep him out of the Chase for the Sprint Cup this year.
Gordon pulled a great run towards the end of last year’s regular season capped by a second place finish at Atlanta and a hard-fought challenge at Richmond to make the Chase. He needs that same effort for a second straight year if he wants to make NASCAR’s version of a postseason.
Gordon had a chance to win at Bristol Saturday night but developed a right rear tire rub after the last restart with just under 50 laps to go. That dropped him from second to a seventh place finish. Normally a seventh place finish is good enough to hang your hat on but not when wins are at a premium now.
The four-time Sprint Cup champion can’t afford to miss out on opportunities to win races. These consistent finishes are no longer going to help if he can’t get in victory lane or get a little luck. He sits 11 points behind Joey Logano for the final automatic qualifying spot of 10th to make the Chase.
He could use a good run at Atlanta to set him up at Richmond.
Gordon has 10 top 10 finishes in his last 13 Atlanta starts including seven of the last eight. He has finishes of first in 2011 and second in 2012 in his last two starts at the 1.5-mile track and needs another top two finish Sunday night.
Really Gordon’s Chase hopes come down to how well he can keep his success going in Atlanta. If that string of success comes to an end so does his Chase hopes.
Eric Smith is the Lead Motorsports Writer for Race Review Online. Follow him on Twitter @Ericsportsguru
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