KANSAS CITY, Kan.— If Jimmie Johnson hasn’t had blazing speed thus far in the Chase, what’s to account for Jeff Gordon’s recent clear superiority within an organization that professes to have an open-book policy among all its teams?
Gordon says it’s chemistry.
“I can’t put my finger on it exactly, other than I’ve been on the flip side of that, so I kind of know how it goes,” Gordon said Friday in a one-on-one interview with PRN’s Steve Richards. “I’ve always given the 48 team, especially, a lot of credit for just how good they are as a team–the chemistry, the details that they pay attention to, the confidence they have, and belief in one another.
“They go out there believing that they can win every race, and their cars are good, but their team makes a lot of that happen, and that’s what we have this year. We have a team that’s very, very solid, that’s really just clicking together. And at the same time, we’re showing up at the race track with our cars tuned in, so we can just fine-tune it from there—so the speed’s been there.”
The performance boost of the No. 24 team, however, hasn’t been an overnight occurrence. Gordon acknowledges there were growing pains after team owner Rick Hendrick realigned his teams and paired Gordon with crew chief Alan Gustafson after the 2010 season.
“This has been about three years in the making,” Gordon said. “Ever since I moved over to this team, when we did the swap and Alan became my crew chief, we were a little bit down the first year or two when things didn’t go as well as we wanted them to.
“But I feel like, I guess, the potential I always saw, always got along well with Alan, always believed in him, and I think it works both ways there. It’s all about finding all the little weaknesses that you have and trying to make them better, and he’s been amazing at that.
“And here we are with it all coming together and having a great year.”
Kurt Busch made a lot of extra work for the track crews during final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, when he spun off Turn 4 and slid straight through two large logos painted on the grass in the tri-oval. Busch, who was eliminated from the Chase last week at Dover, was 30th fastest in Happy Hour. The spin will force Busch to a backup car for tomorrow’s race; he’ll drop to the rear under penatly to start the event. … Rookie Kyle Larson, seeking his first Sprint Cup victory, was fastest in final practice, turning a lap at 190.295 mph. On a cooler track, Larson was third fastest behind Marcos Ambrose and Jamie McMurray in Saturday morning’s session.