Jeff Gordon and the 24 team had a rough 2012 season. From barely getting into The Chase to then doing close to nothing, winning the last race of the season bodes well for the 24 car in 2013.
One thing Gordon will be remembered for in 2012 is how he dumped Bowyer into the wall at Phoenix.
Gordon's actions and character were called into question after he took his revenge on Bowyer during the Phoenix race.
To end the 2012 season with a win, though, especially only one week after being fined $100,000, speaks greatly of both the 24 team and Jeff Gordon's ability to recover after having a bad week.
It’s hard to watch a four-time champion do what Gordon did during the Phoenix race. He had a poor season, and he looked like he decided to take out his frustration on Bowyer.
With only one win before Homestead this season, which Gordon only won because of weather, being able to win the final race of the 2012 season sets up the 24 team for success moving into the 2013 season.
The Kid's Still Got It
The win at Homestead was big for Gordon and the 24 team. In a season where Jeff struggled and barely made The Chase, winning the last race of the season proves that he is still one of the best drivers in NASCAR.
That is huge for Gordon.
The competition is clearly getting harder in NASCAR, and it's been several years since Gordon has won a championship.
Gordon is no longer the dominant young driver he was in the '90s. Instead, he is now the grizzled veteran who is still proving he is one of the best drivers in the sport.
2012 seemed like a season where Gordon was in a big decline as a driver. He struggled all season, but he still had moments of greatness. Gordon managing to get into The Chase and winning the final race of the season proved he can still be one of the best drivers in NASCAR.
Does he have what it takes to win another championship? Who really knows? But winning at Homestead proves Gordon can still win, which bodes well for the 24 team moving forward into 2013.
Moving On From Mistakes
Whether Gordon feels like his actions against Clint Bowyer were justified, he made a mistake choosing to put Bowyer into the wall and not only endanger himself, but Bowyer and other drivers as well.
It's hard to imagine a driver of Gordon's status acting the way he did, but he let his anger get the best of him, and it wasn't looking good for Gordon after the Phoenix race.
He should consider himself lucky that NASCAR decided not to suspend him.
It seemed even more unlikely Gordon would come back the next week and walk away with the win. If anything, Gordon should have been expected to lay back and stay out of trouble.
Instead, he raced against Bowyer for a large part of the Homestead race, and even finished in front of him.
Gordon’s win was a huge turnaround from the previous week, and it showed that both Jeff Gordon and the 24 team can overcome challenges and move forward from the worst week they had in the 2012 season.
They needed the Homestead win to move forward into the 2013 season and end the 2012 year on a positive note.
Getting Set for Next Year
Jeff Gordon struggled in 2012. Whether bad luck should be blamed, or the 24 team not clicking, he didn't have as many wins this season as he did in 2011. It’s bad enough Gordon's Chase chances came down to the final race of the regular season.
Add in a rather unimpressive Chase season, and the 2013 season looked bleak for the 24 team.
Was placing Alan Gustafson as Gordon's crew chief a mistake? Should Steve Letarte have remained as the crew chief of the 24? Gordon has had less success with Gustafson this year than he did in 2011, so it was hard to see how the 2013 season could be any better.
The importance of winning at Homestead was huge for the 24 team. With everything that happened with Gordon and his crew at Phoenix, being able to turn around the next week and win the race proves the 24 team is far from done in NASCAR.
Gordon hasn't had the success he had early in his career, but winning at Homestead will bode well for the 24 team moving into the 2013 season.