For the last 17 seasons, NASCAR fans have watched Jeff Gordon grow up in front of their eyes.
Since winning his first Cup championship in 1995, Gordon’s voice has held authority. When outspoken, his arguments are calculated and smoothly delivered. When he or his team’s ability or determination is questioned, the response remains positive and upbeat.
Sunday night’s postrace comments by the second-place finisher at Auto Club Speedway carried a similar tone, yet with an enthusiasm that was so genuine it was apparent that the old Jeff Gordon was back.
Gordon graciously congratulated winner Matt Kenseth, but the confidence of the four-time champion beamed with the expectation that a fifth title could be just 34 races away.
“We were awesome in every way tonight with this DuPont Chevrolet,” Gordon said.”I’m really excited on one side and I’m really upset on the other because I felt like we had an opportunity to win this race.”
Gordon not only had an opportunity to win the Auto Club 500, he skillfully picked off one car at a time beginning with his teammate Jimmie Johnson on Lap 78 after the No. 48 Chevrolet had dominated by leading 74 laps prior to being passed in Turn 2.