Jeff Gordon has had 27 top-10 finishes in 33 Nextel Cup races this year. That’s just one shy of his personal best, which came when he had 28 on his way to a championship and a 13-victory season in 1998.
The record for top-10 finishes in a season since the schedule was trimmed to tracks of a half-mile or more in 1972 is 29, set by Dale Jarrett in his championship season in 1999.
Gordon might have to break Jarrett’s record to win this year’s title. He’s only nine points ahead of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson in the current Chase for the Nextel Cup standings with just three races to go.
The first of those races is Sunday at Texas. Gordon has six top-10 Texas finishes, but the 1.5-mile track north of downtown Fort Worth is one of only two on the circuit where Gordon has never won. The other is Homestead-Miami Speedway, where the season ends on Nov. 18. Gordon has 81 career victories,
“I can honestly say this is one of the first times I’m excited about racing there from a competitive standpoint,” said Gordon, who finished fourth in the race at Texas earlier this year after leading 173 laps in a race Jeff Burton eventually won after Gordon scrubbed the Turn 4 wall in his No. 24 Chevrolet.
“I’ve always loved the facility, but it’s been ‘hit or miss’ for us. ...We’ve been close to victory the past couple of times. But for whatever crazy reason – whether it’s an electrical problem while leading or me smacking the wall off turn 4 while leading – we just haven’t won.”