RICHMOND - It was all right there for Jeff Gordon. For the second straight year, he was going to race his way into the Chase in Richmond. He'd nailed down the pole on Friday, and late in the race was weaving his way through the field when the infamous Clint Bowyer spin altered the entire race.
"We haven't had the kind of year that this team is capable of, and that's where our focus is these next 10 races is, just to know that we put in every bit of effort we possibly could," Gordon said after the race. "We fought through a lot of things. It wasn't pretty but we were getting it done until that caution came out, and you know, we still could have made it in."
Gordon did have problems on the restart, sliding backwards and surrendering positions to Joey Logano. Regardless, it was an ignominious early end to the season for Gordon.
He said all the right things, both about this year and the future: "We're going to do everything we can to go these next 10 races and step it up and get ourselves in position to be more competitive," he said. "Hopefully we can win a race or two and get ourselves in position to go be in a better position when it comes to Richmond at this time next year."
Live by the Richmond race, die by the Richmond race. Gordon knows exactly how tough it is to get into the Chase, and on Saturday night, he saw how quickly the fates can change their minds.