Near-miss for Gordon still improves his Chase chances

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A victory in Sunday’s 400 at Pocono Raceway not only would’ve made a great 42nd birthday present for Jeff Gordon, but it would’ve been a major boost to his hopes of making the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

But it was not to be for the four-time Sprint Cup champion, who lost the lead to Kasey Kahne shortly after the final restart of the race with two laps remaining and settled for the runner-up position. However, it did manage to move him up one spot to ninth in the Cup standings.

More than anything, Gordon needs to break his 2013 duck and win a race. After that, his Plan B is firmly cementing himself into the Top 10 of the championship, who will automatically move into the Chase.

And while he admitted disappointment after his narrow defeat to Kahne, Sunday still helped in that regard.

“I thought [on] that last [restart] that I did everything I needed to do, and I looked in my mirror and I really thought that the inside lane got a good run on Kasey, so I thought all I needed to do was get in here and get the bottom and I’d be good,” said Gordon.

“But, man, he got a killer run and blasted on the outside of me. Caught me by surprise, I’ll be honest. In that case, and in that scenario, it just kills your momentum. So I feel fortunate to finish second. I feel like we had a great day all in all, and I’m very proud of that.

“It’s something we can build a lot of momentum on. Yeah, I’m frustrated right now because we had a shot at it. We know how important wins are, but second is a great points day for us as well.”

With Gordon moving up to ninth in the championship, Greg Biffle is now on that 10th-place bubble after falling two spots despite finishing 10th in the race on Sunday.

Biffle does have a win from Michigan earlier this year to help him, but with the Chase fight as tight as it is, that may wind up not being enough.