3. Gordon's No. 24 Team No Longer Shares a Shop with the No. 48 Team
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The sight of Jimmie Johnson's rapidly growing collection of championship trophies at the race shop shared by both teams must have eaten away at the confidence of Gordon's race team.
It was a continual reminder that the sport Gordon once dominated was now controlled by his protege.
For years, the two teams shared the same facility in what was called the 2-4-8 shop. However, as part of the Hendrick crew chief swap, the No. 24 team is now paired with Mark Martin's No. 5 team, and Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 team is sharing space with the five-time defending champ.
Putting some distance between himself and the constant reminder that Johnson has eclipsed his own mark of four Cup titles should eliminate unwelcome distractions and bring a renewed focus to Gordon and the entire No. 24 team.
Gordon was amazed by how popular his Phoenix victory proved to be.
Of course, it didn't hurt that by passing Kyle Busch with eight laps to go he became the only driver to beat Busch all weekend.
Nonetheless, after the race Gordon acknowledged the fans and thanked them for staying after the race to show their support.
Long gone are the days when Gordon, known in his youth as NASCAR's "Wonder Boy," was lustily booed by supporters of Dale Earnhardt Sr. and other established drivers. Gordon has matured into one of NASCAR's elder statesmen, and he is now a sentimental favorite with many fans.
An invigorated fan base will help motivate Gordon and propel him to the 2011 Sprint Cup title.
Gordon wants to win for the sake of his daughter Ella. He wants her to be able to remember her daddy winning races and championships.
Gordon believes it wouldn't be enough for Ella to simply know that her father was a great driver. Nothing would be quite the same as Ella actually seeing and remembering him dominating on the racetrack.
In addition, he hasn’t won a title since his marriage to Ingrid Vandebosch. Gordon would surely like to experience a championship celebration with her as well.