As the dawn of a new millennium approached and then came along, Jeff Gordon was the dominant force in NASCAR with Sprint Cup championships captured in 1995, 1997, 1998, and 2001.
13 years have passed since his fourth Cup title, and during that time, Gordon has become a revered veteran in the sport. But he has yet to return to the top.
This year, however, could be his time once again. Going into next weekend’s Eliminator Round finale at Phoenix, Gordon is on the cusp of advancing to the Sprint Cup Championship Race at Homestead-Miami Speedway and competing for his fifth crown.
He knows how hard it is to become a champion. And at 43 years old, this may prove to be his last best opportunity to do that.
Perhaps that’s why he was as fired up as he was following Sunday’s Eliminator middle race at Texas, which ended for him badly. During a green-white-checkered restart, he made contact with Brad Keselowski and then spun out with a tire failure shortly after.
He finished 29th and slipped from first in the standings to fourth – the final advance position for the Championship Race. And as you know by now, Gordon made sure that Keselowski knew about his frustrations with him.
The fire inside Gordon to win title No. 5 may now be brighter than it’s ever been. In the clip above, NASCAR AMERICA’s Kyle Petty and Jeff Burton explain why Phoenix could be the place where Gordon shows just how badly he wants it.