Jeff Gordon: Game On Against Jimmie Johnson

Sandra MacWattersCorrespondent IJune 3, 2010

DOVER, DE - MAY 14: Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway on May 14, 2010 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Geoff Burke/Getty Images

Now is the time for the other four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion to make his move against the current one.

Jeff Gordon knows he has to continue his drive in the points standings while Jimmie Johnson is plagued by missteps.

Currently, Gordon is fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup points standings with Johnson following in seventh place.

The upcoming Gillette Fusion Pro Glide 500 presented by Target at Pocono Raceway is a track Gordon has done well on with four wins and 10 top-five finishes.

The 2.5 mile Pocono track is a bit of a mixed breed as NASCAR tracks go. 

It's triangular shape, with varying degrees of banking 14 degrees or less, tough tunnel turns and 3,000 foot plus straightaways play best to drivers who do well on flat tracks.

Pocono and Indy are two important races for Gordon and he spoke of his goals for these tracks saying, "First, there is only one place to be and that's first."

Jimmie Johnson has struggled with erratic finishes the last five races. 

He was 31st at Talladega, 10th at Richmond, 36th at Darlington, 16th at Dover and 37th at Charlotte.

His Lowe's No. 48 has been seen in the most unlikely of places, the hook of a wrecker on several occasions.

Theories are nearly as prolific about his decline in performance as they are for fellow Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Johnson's mysterious on-track spins have been costly to him and much too frequent.

It could be he is having his racing slump now as opposed to last year when he had one top-10 finish between the August Pocono race and Richmond.

Regardless of the reason for Johnson's uncharacteristic performance, Gordon has to regain his championship form.

Last week at the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, Gordon's crew chief Steve Letarte made numerous adjustments to the car. Some of them helped and some hindered, but in the end the car was a front-runner.

With 25 laps to go, Gordon led the field after a caution flag restart. 

Most of the lead cars had taken advantage of the caution with a stop in the pits. Gordon chose to stay out, but lost ground as he slid to a sixth place finish.

He is ready to do whatever it takes to maintain an advantage over Johnson. If there is a way to rattle the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup champ, Gordon will do it.

Johnson's stats at Pocono are not as good as Gordon's. He has two wins and five top-five finishes.

This week the driver of the No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet participated in a two-day tire test for Goodyear at the Watkins Glen road course.

He is using every opportunity to regain his winning form and run for his fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup championship before Johnson can attain that title.

There is no doubt Chad Knaus will right the Johnson ship and once again have him finishing in the top-five.

For Gordon it is becoming personal even though he is listed as owner of the No. 48 Chevrolet. 

The aggravation with Johnson has been obvious.

The race schedule indicates we are half way to the Chase. 

For Jeff Gordon, his focus will be on taking Jimmie Johnson out of contention for that fifth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.

Rick Hendrick mandated that Johnson and Gordon put grievances aside.  NASCAR drivers have amazing powers of recollection.

The intensity shown by Steve Letarte mirrors that of Chad Knaus. Gordon's crew chief is ready to show he can give his driver a winning car.

The best way to defeat Johnson is by taking a car and finishing in front of him, so expect on-track encounters in the race to the Chase between these two. 

For Jeff Gordon it is game on against Jimmie Johnson.


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