Gordon promises 'really big year'
Jan 26, 2012 at 11:15 PM
CONCORD, N.C. — Coming off his first multiple-win season in five years, Jeff Gordon promised even better results for the 2012 season.
“We’re ready to win a bunch of races,” Gordon said at the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour, presented by Charlotte Motor Speedway. “I feel like (crew chief) Alan (Gustafason) and I working together, we have a lot of belief in each other. We’re ready to have a fun year, a really big year.”
Just how big of a year?
The four-time NASCAR champion thinks a fifth title could well be in the cards.
“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t have gotten it done last year,” said the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet. “There’s no reason why we can’t get it this year.”
Gordon, 40, looks back to last season when he won three races in the 26-race regular season and scored an 85th career win to past Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip on the all-time Sprint Cup win list.
He entered the “Chase for the Sprint Cup” as the No. 4 seed, but faded over the 10-race playoff with only one top-10 finish in the first six races.
Tony Stewart, who was winless during the regular season, got on a tear during the Chase, winning five of the 10 races to capture his third Sprint Cup title. Very little of it made any sense to Gordon.
“You can’t forget they should have won Vegas early in the season,” Gordon said about Stewart’s team. “When they were that strong at Vegas, we all went, ‘Wow.’ But, they couldn’t make that set-up work again.
“It’s confusing. On paper, there’s nothing with the set-ups that stands out as, ‘Wow.’ I give them credit for what they accomplished.”`
There is extra motivation to get to victory lane early. The next Hendrick Motorsports driver to win a race will give the organization a milestone 200th victory.
Gordon recalled many of his biggest victories for Hendrick, calling his first win at the 1994 Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte one of the biggest moments of his life.
Other victories he mentioned were the 1997 Daytona 500 when Gordon led Hendrick drivers to a 1-2-3 finish, a win in the inaugural Brickyard 400 and a first series championship in 1995, a 34-point victory over Dale Earnhardt.
“Winning is what this organization is all about,” Gordon said. “I know how my crew chief feels and I feel the same way, if we don’t go into Homestead battling for the championship, it will be a disappointment.”
He added that nothing short of a fifth title will truly whet his competitive appetite.
“Once you’ve won the championship, your goal is to win another championship,” Gordon said. “You can say you’ve had a good year if you’ve won so many races, but you’re only satisfied by winning the championship.”
Walmart presented its Legends of Racing program Thursday morning at the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour.
As part of the presentation, a No. 50 Chevrolet to be driven Bill Elliott at Daytona’s Coca Zero 400 in July was unveiled.
Elliott, 56, has amassed 44 career wins along with the 1988 Cup Series championship. The team will be fielded by Turner Motorsports with engines supplied by Hendrick Motorsports.
The world’s largest retailer also announced a larger involvement with NASCAR, highlighted by plans to carry more racing-related merchandise, and a discounted ticket package to be available for selected races.