2012 season in the rear view: Jeff Gordon

Vitals: 1oth in the points standings. 2 wins, 11 top 5s, 18 top 10s. 5 DNFs.

Moment to remember: Yeah, yeah, yeah, there was that whole thing at Phoenix. But we're saving that for Clint Bowyer. Instead, we're going to go with Gordon's surprise win at Pocono after he went from sixth to first in less than a third of a lap.

As the pack entered turn one, Gordon had Kasey Kahne to his inside and Martin Truex Jr. to his outside. But leader Jimmie Johnson got loose while racing Matt Kenseth and the two made contact and washed up the track. Brad Keselowski and Greg Biffle, the drivers immediately behind them, were forced to check up, and that opened the door for Gordon, who was in front by the time that Kenseth spun into Denny Hamlin, causing the yellow flag to fly. Before the race got back going, the skies opened up, and the race was called. Gordon was in victory lane.

(However Gordon's win was marred by the death of a fan outside of Pocono Raceway after the race. The significant weather had been tracking towards Pocono for some time, and as the race wasn't called until the rain started falling, may fans ran out of time to take shelter before the storm hit. In the aftermath, many tracks emphasized severe weather policies.)

Moment to forget: Because he made the Chase, Gordon doesn't have to cleanse his brain of the awful start to his 2012 season, but man, it stunk. There was the blown engine at Daytona, contact with Dale Earnhardt Jr. that led to a flat tire at Bristol, a crash at Talladega, and more tire issues at Darlington. After all that in the first 11 races, Gordon was 24th in the standings.

And then after he qualified for the Chase by the skin of his teeth at Richmond, Gordon's playoffs started just like his regular season. At Chicago, his throttle stuck as he entered turn one and he slammed the wall. He finished 35th.

The wrap: After that awful start, Gordon needed a strong midseason kick to make the Chase. And he got it, finishing in the top 10 in 10 of the remaining 15 races. But it wasn't necessarily a departure from the beginning part of Gordon's season. He wasn't running poorly, he just had some crazy bad luck.

Case in point, after that 35th place finish at Chicago, Gordon was back up to fifth in the standings after Texas with two races to go. But then was quickly back to 11th after that whole Phoenix thing. But, in true Gordon fashion, he scrambled back into the top 10 by winning the season finale at Homestead.

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