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Power Rankings: Gordon enters wild-card hunt with win at Pocono

by | NASCAR Blogger
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Martin Truex Jr. took advantage of a late wreck to finish third at Pocono. (Getty Images)  
Martin Truex Jr. took advantage of a late wreck to finish third at Pocono. (Getty Images)  

Jeff Gordon knows all about his current position as a wild-card candidate after his Pennsylvania 400 win Sunday in Pocono.

But despite holding the No. 2 spot behind Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne, Gordon isn't anywhere near ready to punch his ticket to the Chase.

"All I will say is we've been on a nice streak of finishes," he said after career win No. 86 on Sunday afternoon. "Even though they haven't been wins, they've been really solid finishes, top 5s, top 10s, that have gotten us further up in the points. That is something to build on, 'cause this year, the way things have gone, we haven't had a lot to build on. The last several weeks, we've had something to build on."

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In fact, the way Gordon sees things his life may have actually gotten more stressful after taking the checkered flag.

With five races to go in the regular season before this year's Chase field is finally set, Gordon knows there's absolutely no room for error to have any chance at making the playoffs.

"We knew how badly we needed a win, and we got it. But that's half the battle," he said. "Now, in my opinion, this only puts more pressure on us over these next several weeks, but we're ready for the challenge. I think with all we've been through this year, I said this also, if we can get to Victory Lane and get some things to go our way, this team, because of what we've been through, that we've stayed together, haven't pointed fingers, it will make you stronger."

Gordon and crew chief Alan Gustaffson have been forced to endure a half-season's worth of terrible luck despite having fast cars several weeks. But all that adversity was finally put behind with one win on Sunday.

For now, at least.

"The saving grace for me was I knew the problem we had to fix was ourselves," Gordon said of the multitude of issues. "That's actually a good thing to have because you can work on it. If you don't know what you're addressing or what you have to clean up, lacking a ton of speed, been in those situations, it's really tough. I just felt we had to get it right. When we do get it right, we'll have a chance to win a lot of races.

"I think we've really competed to win every race I can think of the last five, six weeks. They haven't been 1-2-3 finishes like we'd like, but I felt like we've been in position. We just needed something to go our way. It went our way [Sunday]."

POWER RANKINGS
CurrentDriverPrevious
1Brad Keselowski2
Took over the Chase lead by 20 points thanks to a sixth place finish and Jimmie Johnson?s misfortune. This is now the Penske Racing driver?s championship to lose.
2Jimmie Johnson1
Saw his seven point lead evaporate thanks to a cut tire and trip into the wall on Sunday. Johnson now must hope a similar such fate happens to Keselowski next week at Homestead to have any shot at a sixth title.
3Kyle Busch4
Nearly ran the table in Phoenix by leading all practices and taking the pole had he been able to win the race. But a poor decision on lane choice for a late restart cost Busch a shot at Victory Lane.
4Kasey Kahne5
Ending the year on a positive note but wasn?t able to match his Phoenix victory of last November. Still a solid day with a fourth place performance.
5Clint Bowyer3
Was the victim of Jeff Gordon?s revenge that completely eliminated Bowyer from championship contention. He wasn?t an angel in the turn of events but Bowyer definitely got the worst of the situation.
6Denny Hamlin8
Hamlin?s second place finish in Phoenix a welcome rebound from two weeks of disappointment for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver. He?ll be a factor for a win next Sunday in Homestead.
7Kevin Harvick12
Snapped a 44-race winless drought with Sunday?s win ironically coming on the weekend when reports of his evacuation from Richard Childress Racing to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014 broke out.
8Greg Biffle6
A decent day for ?The Biff? in Phoenix, who was able to dodge all the last lap craziness to bring home his Roush Fenway Racing Ford seventh.
9Joey Logano13
Minding his own business until getting swept up in the Gordon-Bowyer fight. Logano was on his way to a nice effort to follow up his ninth Nationwide Series win on Saturday.
10Ryan Newman14
Rough way to earn a fifth place finish as Newman was one of the unfortunate souls to get caught in the last lap crash on the main straightaway.
11Tony Stewart9
Not a god day at all for Smoke who spun late after making contact racing for position. A 19th place finish for Stewart.
12Matt Kenseth11
Will make the final Sprint Cup start of his career for Roush Fenway Racing next week at Homestead on the heels of a 14th place effort in Phoenix.
13Martin Truex Jr.10
His race was over nearly before it started with a blown engine. After a stellar regular season Truex Jr. has suffered mightily throughout the Chase.
14Carl Edwards15
An 11th place finish for Edwards as he brings to a close one of the most disappointing seasons in his career.
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