Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Tenth NASCAR Day of Christmas: Top Tens for Gordon

Jeff Gordon may not have beaten his protege for the Sprint Cup Championship - but he did best Jimmie Johnson in another category in 2009.

Believe it or not, Jeff Gordon ended the season with 25 top 10 finishes- one better than Jimmie Johnson's 24. Of course it's not exactly as impressive as being the four-time consecutive champion.

Though they pulled out their first-ever win at Texas, Gordon and crew chief Steve Letarte just couldn't get it together enough to pose a serious threat to Jimmie the "Golden Boy". Ergo, Gordon's season ended with one win, one pole, third place in the Chase standings - and a lot of disappointment.

Gordon even admitted that his late-season frustration had a lot to do with watching the guy he brought into the Hendrick fold (and the man whose car he happens to own) outrun him lap after lap. Gordon said in October, "I'm not going to go over and pat him on the back and say how great he is and 'I love you, man' when I really want to beat him." In fact, he told the media that Johnson's unmatched performance had somewhat dulled their once shining friendship.

By my estimation, Gordon has a few more years to prove he's still go what it takes to win a championship or two. And he just might be mad enough after this season to really go after it. Assuming the arthritis in his back doesn't act up and that his car doesn't suffer any mysterious parts failures, look for Gordon to mount a serious charge to the front of the pack in 2010.

You never know, come next November it just might be Johnson who's pretending to be happy that Gordon is holding the trophy.

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