Jeff Gordon has no plans of relinquishing his lead atop the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings. Although he didn't win the GoBowling.com 400 last week at the Pocono Raceway, he made a good account of himself by finishing sixth, with 63 laps led in the race.
The performance was good for 40 points and maintained his overall lead. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the race but still trails Gordon by 17 points.
With the pressure on, Gordon has gotten off to a great start at the Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen. On Saturday, he captured the pole position (per Jeff Gluck of USA Today) to put himself in optimal position to extend his lead.
Gordon's son Leo celebrated his birthday on the same day, and his dad was able to give him a nice present. Per The Associated Press (h/t the Los Angeles Times), Gordon said, “This year has been phenomenal. I wished [Leo] a happy birthday this morning and said, 'All right, I'm going to try to get you that pole.'"
Can Gordon make good on the first spot on the grid? Here's how you can watch the action.
Where: Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York
When: Sunday, Aug. 10 at 1 p.m. ET
Live Steam: WatchESPN
Radio: Motor Racing Network
Other Drivers to Watch
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The 2014 season has been arguably Earnhardt Jr's best ever. Last week's win was his third of the year—which ties him for the most of any driver—and he's also had 10 top-five finishes and 15 top-10 finishes.
He's been a factor in almost every race this season, and that's why he's nipping at Gordon's heels heading into Sunday.
In 14 starts at Watkins Glen, Earnhardt has come away with two top-five finishes and three top-10 finishes, but he's never won there.
Could this be the first time?
Besides Jimmie Johnson and Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski is the only other driver to have won three times this year. Even with that success, Keselowski is a distant third in the standings heading into Sunday's race.
He's won once a month dating back to June, so the trend suggests Keselowski may have a victory coming in the month of August. He'll need to rebound from a disappointing 23rd-place finish at Pocono Raceway last week.
He was ninth in qualifying, which isn't a horrible starting spot, but it isn't enough to ease all concerns about Keselowski's ability to close the 70-point gap between him and Gordon in the standings.