Jeff Gordon’s been here before. And not too long ago, either.
Rewind to last year’s Chase decider at Richmond International Raceway, where Gordon had to race his way into the post-season. The four-time Sprint Cup champion looked as if he wouldn’t be able to do so, finding himself a lap down when the race was stopped for rain before the halfway mark.
But after his team disconnected the rear sway bar on his No. 24 Chevy, Gordon came alive. And at the end of the night, he had gone all the way to the runner-up spot, giving him the final Chase berth over Kyle Busch.
Tonight, Gordon finds himself in the same position. Winless so far this year, he is six points behind Kurt Busch for the final Top-10 bid in this year’s Chase. He can also clinch a Wild Card spot if he can come through with a victory.
Either way, your pole sitter for the Federated Auto Parts 400 needs another big night in Virginia. But compared to last year, Gordon maintains that he’s more loose this time around.
“I think we were in a tougher spot last year than we are this year,” he said Thursday. “I think the way it prepared us was knowing no matter what happens, you can’t ever give up.
“You just have to put every bit of effort into every single moment, every lap. If the car’s off, you got to work on it, sometimes take big swings at it. If your car’s perfect, don’t get complacent.”
Gordon was in trouble earlier in August after crashing at Watkins Glen, which caused him to tumble out of the Top 10 in the Cup standings. But he’s been able to climb back into the picture with results of seventh and sixth respectively in the last two events.
His Hendrick Motorsports team also recently tested at Richmond, and while Gordon said it wasn’t a great test, he felt the team “learned what not to do” and “made some big changes to improve the car as the test went on.”
Even more important in Gordon’s mind? The test went down in night conditions – similar to what he and the drivers will face in a few short hours from now.
“That was huge for us,” he said. “It’s not a typical thing that the track does here when you test. It was one of those things where we asked for it and they were able to, you know, pull that together and get us that valuable time on the track under more suitable race conditions.”
With that in mind, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Gordon on his game once again tonight at “The Action Track.”
The aftermath of the Chinese Grand Prix has centered around Red Bull Racing and its two drivers, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.
While Ricciardo has garnered praise at every turn for a masterful drive from sixth to first in the second half of the race, Verstappen has again come under criticism for overzealous driving in the wake of contact with Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
A recap of the past news week for the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, and the attention both Ricciardo and Verstappen have garnered, is below.
Ricciardo Surfaces as Outside Title Contender After Chinese Grand Prix Win
Prior to the Chinese Grand Prix, few would have labelled Ricciardo as a possible title contender, especially in the wake of a mechanical failure in the opening laps of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
However, Sunday’s victory in China not only provided a number of thrills for onlookers, it also gave Ricciardo a major boost of confidence, and he asserted afterwards that he thinks a championship push is possible.
“I really feel like, I’ve said a few times, just give me the chance to be in a title hunt and I really believe I will take it,” Ricciardo said in a piece posted on Crash.net. “I feel like I can capitalize on opportunities and I guess [China] was a good example even with a fat lip I am still pretty fast and pretty good on a Sunday.”
The victory also comes at an interesting time in Ricciardo’s career, as the 2018 season is the final one in his current contract with the Red Bull team. On the market for a new contract, Ricciardo mentioned that he’s seeking a two-year deal with whichever team he signs with.
“I don’t want to sign anything too long because I don’t know where the sport’s going,” Ricciardo said in an interview with The Times newspaper.
He added, “Ideally, I’d sign a two-year contract. I think two years I can definitely be comfortable with and then see it from there. That third year will be the rule change so I will probably wait and see what happens then.”
Ricciardo also added that whether or not he returns to Red Bull is entirely down to the team’s performance this year.
“I kind of feel like if they want me to race for them they should contact me, but they haven’t,” he said. “If we win this year then I’m staying with Red Bull. It’s pretty simple. It’s really just about performance at the moment.”
Jos Verstappen Offers Constructive Criticism to Max
Max Verstappen has again come under fire for overzealous driving, and not just from rivals this time.
Perhaps most notably, Max’s father Jos Verstappen, a former Formula 1 driver in his own right, offered his thoughts this past weekend, asserting that Max needs to show more patience and a little better judgment in his overtaking moves.
“The overtake on Vettel really wasn’t on. It wasn’t possible. It was an error of judgement. In some circumstances Max just has to think more,” Jos told Ziggo Sport’s Peptalk, referenced in a Crash.net story.
However, Jos also praised his son’s driving style, noting that he hopes that part doesn’t change.
“I don’t want him to change his driving style. He passed two people at the start. He did that perfectly,” he added. “That’s what we all want to see. But we don’t want to see these kinds of actions. He needs to have it under control. He needs to think.”
In addition to receiving a 10-second penalty for the incident, Verstappen also received two penalty points, bringing his total to five. A driver who gets 12 penalty points within a span of 12 months is automatically given a one-race ban.
Rubens Barrichello Recovering from Brain Tumor
Rubens Barrichello has revealed that he was diagnosed with a brain tumor earlier this year after collapsing in the shower.
“Suddenly I felt a sharp pain in my head. It seemed to be exploding, I had to fall on the ground and only after a few minutes I managed to reach my wife Silvana to ask for help. I immediately realized that it was a serious problem,” Barrichello said of the ordeal in an emotional interview.
Barrichello, whose health has appeared to improve in recent weeks, revealed that the recovery process has been nothing short of miraculous.
“I feel like a miracle,” he said. “(The doctors) told me that only 14 percent of the people who suffered this type of problem then managed to recover completely.
“I am still going through exams and so on, but I am honestly great and the difficulties in life are the ones who show us how to grow and how to be better.”