EXCLUSIVE: Rick Hendrick says retiring Jeff Gordon can still win it all
It’s no secret that Jeff Gordon’s final season of driving has produced results that have been good but not great, at least in the context of a driver who has four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships to his name.
Halfway through the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Gordon sits sixth in points, not as solid as he would ideally like.
But in an exclusive interview with FOXSports.com, Gordon’s longtime car owner and friend, Rick Hendrick, said Gordon absolutely can finally win his fifth championship.
Provided, of course, Gordon can get through the same challenge 10 other drivers will face on Sunday: surviving 500 brutal miles at Talladega Superspeedway.
Sunday’s CampingWorld.com 500 at Talladega is the final race in the Contender Round of the Chase. Four drivers will be knocked out of championship contention after Talladega, leaving eight to move on to the Eliminator Round of the Chase, which starts a week from Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.
Points leader Joey Logano is locked into the Eliminator Round by virtue of his victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but Gordon and 10 other drivers will be fighting for the other seven spots at Talladega.
"If he can get through Talladega, then he can win at Martinsville," Hendrick said of Gordon. "He should have won the last race, but there was a late caution with 50 (laps) to go and he was speeding on pit road."
Gordon is an eight-time winner at the Virginia short track and if he makes it through Talladega and wins again at Martinsville, he’ll punch his ticket into the one-race, winner-take-all season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
If that happens, Hendrick told FOXSports.com, anything is possible.
"If he (Gordon) gets in the final race — he won Homestead the year before last. He led Homestead last year. And had he been running for the championship last year and not the race win, he would have pitted when (Kevin) Harvick and them did, and he probably would have won that race. I think he could have beaten Harvick."