For the first time since his dominating 2007 season, in which he won six races and set a Sprint Cup record of 30 top 10s, Jeff Gordon is leading the Sprint Cup points standings.
He is happy, healthy, and extremely confident.
Send the message to the rest of the drivers: Jeff Gordon is back and the wins will be too.
Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch may be the only winners thus far in 2009, but Gordon has been one of the most consistent. He led 17 laps en route to a sixth place finish at Las Vegas and did so with his left front fender missing. He also reached a career milestone of 20,000 laps led.
He led 64 laps at California and finished second to Matt Kenseth, who had beaten him off pit road.
At the rain-shortened Daytona 500, he settled for a 13th place finish, when he had to pit with a tire issue just laps before the rain came. He led 14 laps.
It is not surprising that Gordon is very optimistic. "It's been a great start to the season. The DuPont Chevrolet has been incredible in each of the first three races of 2009, and I think we had a car capable of winning each time."
"That's quite a change from last year."
It certainly is.
Last season, Gordon and company looked more like Rookies than 81 race winners. He went winless for the first time in his career and at some tracks the team as a whole was horrible right from unloading the truck.
Now, Gordon heads to a track that he got his first career start at and has four wins—the Atlanta Motor Speedway. And he is bringing some back-up.
The National Guard will be the primary sponsor on the No. 24 car in a black and silver Dale Earnhardt-looking scheme.
This is the first of eight scheduled races for the scheme (Atlanta, Texas, Darlington, Michigan, Chicago, Richmond, New Hampshire, and Martinsville).
"Man, it's so much fun going to the race track when you're running in the top five each week and have a shot at the victory," he says. "I can't wait to get to Atlanta."
The Jeff Gordon faithful may finally have something to cheer about for the first time in two years.