"It's called getting beat and not liking it."
Too bad for four-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion Jeff Gordon, because he's been getting beat for over a year now. But can he break out in 2009?
Gordon hasn't won a points event since October 2007, when he won at Charlotte. The 2008 season was the first in which Gordon didn't win a race since his rookie year in 1993.
This past weekend, Gordon tried to break the streak at Auto Club Speedway. He was confident in his car, and rival Matt Kenseth was worried about the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet.
"I thought he was going to pass us," said Kenseth, who won the Daytona 500 a week earlier. "I kind of have a bad habit—some people call me a pessimist, but I think (I'm) more of a realist—but when we took off the runs before that, we got out to a lead and ran some real fast laps and led Jeff by 15, 20 car-lengths and he just ran us down, rolled by and took off. And Greg rolled by me and took off. I couldn't do anything. I was just doing the best I could."
"It's bittersweet," Gordon said. "But, (we) have to come away from this with a lot of positive feelings, because we're a long ways ahead of where we were at this time last year, I feel like. Man, I'm pumped. I'm really excited about this whole season."
Gordon finished last year with 13 top-fives, 19 top-10s, and 447 laps led. He also won his Gatorade Duel race and finished 13th at this year's Daytona 500.
He also claimed third place on the all-time leaders list for consecutive years with a pole win, and now chases just Richard Petty and David Pearson in that category.
Still, the California kid is looking to one-up that this season.
"Tonight was, to me, a sign of what we're going to see more of this season," he said. "I just feel good when I get in the car. The car is driving good. It's just starting off right. I think we only have room for improvement."
With his chronic back pain gone, a reconstructed engine group and new COTs waiting for him, Gordon is confident that he'll be joined by his daughter, Ella Sofia Gordon, in Victory Lane soon.
"I've worked harder over this offseason getting myself in shape than I have in a long time," said Gordon. "I'm refocused."
We have 34 more races to see whether Gordon is right.
Thanks to NASCAR.com, Racing-Reference, the Los Angeles Times, Hardcoreracefans.com, and the Hartford Courant for the information, stats and quotes used in this piece.
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