KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Considering where Jeff Gordon was after Richmond, left out of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship in part due to some late-race shenanigans, he couldn’t have been happier on Sunday.
Not only is Gordon in the Chase, he’s making a charge.
Gordon finished third at Kansas Speedway behind winner Kevin Harvick and runner-up Kurt Busch, his third top-10 finish in four races in NASCAR’s playoffs. That’s allowed him to climb to fourth in points, 32 behind leader Matt Kenseth with six races left in the season.
“Earlier this year, I was probably as frustrated as I’ve ever been in a racecar. We were just missing something,” Gordon said. “Right now, my team has been bringing great cars to the track, not just in the Chase, but I think three, four races prior to that we started to make gains.”
Still, those gains wouldn’t have been enough for Gordon to squeeze into the Chase when at least three organizations appeared to manipulate the ending to the race at Richmond.
NASCAR chairman Brian France used his power the following weekend to make an unprecedented expansion to the field after two separate investigations revealed that Gordon did not have a fair chance to race his way into the 12-driver Chase because of the late-race controversy.
Now, the four-time champion is making a move toward the top of the table.
He finished sixth in the Chase opener at Chicago, struggled to a 15th-place finish at New Hampshire, and then bounced back with a fourth-place run at Dover. His performance on a slippery surface at Kansas Speedway on Sunday sends him to Charlotte brimming with confidence.
“It’s a team effort,” Gordon said. “I’m just proud of how we’ve fought through everything we’ve fought through this year, and we’re making the most of it.”