Jeff Gordon someday may become a full-time race team owner, and he’s learned some valuable lessons driving for Rick Hendrick. Some of those lessons have left him shaking his head.
Try this one. If Gordon and teammate Jimmie Johnson get beat in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship by Tony Stewart or Ryan Newman, it will be largely because of those teams’ Hendrick-built engines. Though Gordon’s laughing at looking up at Stewart in the standings right now, it might not be so funny if Stewart wins it all in November.
“Hey, I have been through this before with Rick,” Gordon said. “We did this with Bobby Labonte and the No. 18 car years ago. We used to supply the engines for them. I can remember going to Michigan and they had a little bit different package in there that we were working toward that was sort of experimental to give us something down the road, and they killed us with it.
“Man, I was mad. I said, ‘I can’t believe we are getting beat by our own stuff.’ I learned then that this is a business.”
With Stewart’s win last week at Daytona, the likelihood of another title is growing. Stewart wouldn’t talk about the possibility earlier this season. Now, as his points lead grows each week, he’s not backing away from the increased expectations.
“I don’t know why at this point leading the point standings we wouldn’t feel like we would (have a chance),” he said. “I don’t think there’s any other team, if they were leading the points, wouldn’t feel like they have a shot at it at this point. I feel like we have just as good of a shot as anybody else that’s out there right now.
“I’m really proud of our organization. I’m proud of our relationship with Hendrick Motorsports and how we have worked with them this year.”
As if Gordon needed another reminder.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...