Usually, race teams complain about ill-handling cars. But this time, the one that was ill instead was the driver of the No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet.
Jeff Gordon had been battling a major head cold all weekend long at the Kansas race, the third race in the all-important Chase for NASCAR's Championship.
Gordon was barely able to practice all weekend, giving Steve Letarte and crew scant information to work with prior to Sunday's race.
That actually may have helped the team, as there was limited time to fiddle with the car, making it worse as so often has happened in the past.
Although starting the race in the 13th position, Gordon managed to climb his way steadily towards the front of the field. His pit stops, while not stellar, were good enough to keep him in Top 10 contention most of the race.
As the laps wound down, Gordon continued his steady march to the front. But he was no match for teammate and leader Jimmie Johnson or for the hometown favorite Carl Edwards, who truly dueled to the race’s end.
In the last 20 laps, Gordon worked his way to the third spot. But Greg Biffle, winner of the past two races, was in hot pursuit. Biffle and Gordon battled until the last lap, when Greg was just able to edge out Jeff for the third finishing spot.
With that pass, Gordon still came in a strong fourth to finish the race, where he admits that he was "the sickest he has ever been in a race car." And with that finish, he also gained two spots in the championship race, moving from eighth to sixth position.
As Gordon climbed out of his race car, he jokingly admitted he should be sick more often. Yet his shaking hand as he took a small sip of his Pepsi revealed just how much of a toll the race had taken on this championship driver.
As the points and the championship race continue to heat up, it seems like it really could be anyone's race. Gordon’s team believes that they are most certainly still in it. Their pit box sported a new sign this week: “Whatever It Takes,” with a picture of the Sprint Cup as their motivation.
Yet maybe there is something to this notion that having a cold might just spur you on to greatness. Gordon may want to prolong his cold for just a few more weeks or so. And perhaps Kyle Busch might just want to see what a head cold might do for him...