Gordon hopes Pocono success carries over

DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:53 AM ET

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. - Jeff Gordon said last weekend's win at Pocono -- even though it was rain-shortened and No. 86 in his NASCAR Sprint Cup career -- may have been the sweetest of them all.

Mostly, he said, because his whole family -- wife Ingrid, daughter Ella and son Leo -- were there to help him celebrate in a soaked Victory Lane.

It was also Gordon's first win in 2012, a season that was quickly getting away from him and the No. 24 Hendrick Motorports Chevrolet team.

However, if it put a strain on Gordon or crew chief Alan Gustafson, it did not show.

"When you go through something like that, it really tests you," Gordon said this week. "It tests every aspect of the team. It either pulls you apart or it brings you closer together.

"I think the fact that we have been able to persevere, it's brought us closer together."

It also put Gordon back into the championship picture for a wild card spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.

But with only five races left in the regular season he almost certainly needs at least one more win to earn himself one of two wild card spots.

A visit to the road course at Watkins Glen on Sunday may just be the recipe for success that Gordon is looking for.

"I always love the road courses and Watkins Glen is always one of my favourites," he said. "It's a fast road course and you've got to have grip and comfort in that car through the esses and the high-speed corners. "You've got to attack the race track in the braking zones, and the car has got to be there for you and stick.

"Recently, though, I just feel like we've been missing a little something here."

Gordon has nine road course wins in his Cup career, with four of them coming at the Glen along with two poles, six top-fives and nine top-10s at the New York track, even though his most recent win was 10 years ago.

"We've not run very well at Watkins Glen in recent years and it's been very disappointing to me and the team," he said. "But I'm optimistic because I felt we made big improvements at Sonoma. We tested at Road Atlanta before that race, and I think it's a better track for Watkins Glen than it is for Sonoma.

"But we won't really know until we get on the track."

Gordon can take some comfort in the fact that over the past two months there has been a marked improvement in finishes for the No. 24 team.

He has had seven consecutive finishes of 12th or better and that performance has moved him from 22nd in the points parade in June to 13th after his win in the Pennsylvania 400.

Gordon said back-to-back wins would be huge boost for his chances to make the Chase.

"I mean, that would be huge to follow up to what just happened in Pocono," he said. "I think that we know while we've made some huge gains over the last several weeks, that we're certainly in no position to take a breath or be comfortable with one win being, what, 13th in points.

"Not only do we understand -- and that's why there is added pressure -- how important it is to continue to keep up a high level of performance. I don't know if we need the second win as badly as we needed the first one, but it's not far off.

"Yeah, it would be huge. That would not only help solidify us for getting in the Chase but make us a much bigger factor if we do get in."

Right now he is tied with Ryan Newman at 611 points, just eight back of 12th-place Carl Edwards, and both Gordon and Newman have a win while Edwards does not.

The real battle, though is with Gordon's Hendrick teammate Kasey Kahne, who holds the final wild card spot right now with 622 points and a pair of wins.

That is the hurdle he has to get over to make it into NASCAR's version of the post-season.

But Gordon isn't quite ready, yet, to guarantee the he will get there.

"We've put together a string of good runs and finishes, but we have to keep fighting for wins," he said. "I don't know if one win will be good enough to secure a wild card spot."

PENSKE SONS ARRESTED

Just when Roger Penske thought things were getting back to normal, two of his sons get locked up after urinating on a woman at a posh yacht club in Nantucket, Mass.

Penske, the billionaire NASCAR and IZOD IndyCar race team owner, wasn't available on Thursday to react to reports that his sons, Jay Penske, 33, and Mark Penske, 35, were arrested in the early morning hours at the Nantucket Yacht Club for allegedly breaking into the club after they had a confrontation with two women in the club's parking lot.

According to a police report, the two women first said that the Penske sons had assaulted them.

The women told police the brothers were relieving themselves in the parking lot when one of the women said when she approached Jay Penske to ask him to stop, he turned and urinated on her boots.

Police said the pair were arrested after a short chase and spent the night in a local jail.

Both were released and are on a promise to appear on Aug. 20.

Jay Penske is also an IndyCar team owner, operating the Dragon Racing Chevrolet team with drivers Sebastien Bourdais and Katherine Legge.

Roger Penske is just getting over the suspension and subsequent firing of A.J. Allmendinger, the driver of his No. 22 Sprint Cup Dodge team, after he failed a pair of drug tests.

Allmendinger this week finally confessed that he had been given the banned drug Adderall by a friend to help him with fatigue.

And this week, Dodge, announced that it was leaving NASCAR and Penske at the end of the season, although Penske had already announced he was moving his NASCAR team to Ford in 2013.


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