Gordon feels second to none

The Baltimore Sun

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Given his stature and standing in NASCAR, it seems odd that Jeff Gordon could be second in the Nextel Cup standings, just six points out of the lead, but a bit ignored by fans and media.

The attention this fall has been on Kasey Kahne, the pole-sitter for today's Banquet 400 at Kansas Speedway, as he struggled to get a berth in the championship-deciding Chase for the Nextel Cup despite leading the series in race victories with five. And there's been lots of focus on the resurgent Richard Childress Racing team, with drivers Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton, the current points leader, both in the top five in points after missing the first two Chases.

But during the past six races, Gordon has accumulated 900 points, second only to Matt Kenseth's 951. With the exception of a disappointing 31st-place run at Richmond, all of Gordon's finishes have been in the top five. And one more Nextel Cup race win will give him 76, tying him with the late Dale Earnhardt for sixth on NASCAR's all-time list.

Still, he's been somewhat ignored, which he says is OK with him.

"We haven't been in the spotlight as much as the guys who have won the last couple of races, but I am totally fine with that," Gordon said. "I like being a little more under the radar at this point."

He said the points lead brings pressure that he can do just as well without.

"It is a little more comforting to be right where we are at right now, we are right in the thick of it, so close," he said. "Consistency is what it is all about for us. The way things are going for our team, I just couldn't be happier."

There seems to be no consensus in the garage as far as which team and driver have the most momentum three races into the Chase, but Gordon said he and his crew are coming close.

"What I am happiest about is we have been steadily gaining as a team and getting better, the chemistry getting better, teamwork, communication and performance - all of those things," he said. "Then the Chase started, and that is when it is time for you elevate everything to the next level and that is exactly what our team has done.

Burton, the points leader, is among those who have noticed the improvement in Gordon's No. 24 team.

"I think the No. 24 is a real threat to win this thing, without a doubt," he said. "We know without question that Jeff Gordon can get it done."

Today's lineup

NASCAR Nextel Cup

Banquet 400 Lineup

At Kansas City, Kan.

Lap length: 1.5 miles (Car number in parentheses) 1. (9) Kasey Kahne, Dodge, 178.377 mph. 2. (10) Scott Riggs, Dodge, 177.936. 3. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevy, 176.887. 4. (25) Brian Vickers, Chevy, 176.846. 5. (18) J.J. Yeley, Chevy, 176.800. 6. (07) Clint Bowyer, Chevy, 176.771. 7. (2) Kurt Busch, Dodge, 176.344. 8. (17) Matt Kenseth, Ford, 176.177. 9. (19) Elliott Sadler, Dodge, 176.137. 10. (31) Jeff Burton, Chevy, 176.022. 11. (24) Jeff Gordon, Chevy, 175.942. 12. (8) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevy, 175.919. 13. (5) Kyle Busch, Chevy, 175.530. 14. (29) Kevin Harvick, Chevy, 175.308. 15. (12) Ryan Newman, Dodge, 175.273. 16. (43) Bobby Labonte, Dodge, 175.194. 17. (22) Dave Blaney, Dodge, 175.103. 18. (01) Joe Nemechek, Chevy, 174.961. 19. (6) Mark Martin, Ford, 174.774. 20. (38) David Gilliland, Ford, 174.735. 21. (20) Tony Stewart, Chevy, 174.729. 22. (06) Todd Kluever, Ford, 174.543. 23. (1) Martin Truex Jr., Chevy, 174.526. 24. (45) Kyle Petty, Dodge, 174.436. 25. (11) Denny Hamlin, Chevy, 174.390. 26. (41) Reed Sorenson, Dodge, 174.267. 27. (99) Carl Edwards, Ford, 174.165. 28. (14) Sterling Marlin, Chevy, 174.087. 29. (16) Greg Biffle, Ford, 174.020. 30. (44) Terry Labonte, Chevy, 173.784. 31. (66) Jeff Green, Chevy, 173.661. 32. (88) Dale Jarrett, Ford, 173.656. 33. (42) Casey Mears, Dodge, 173.645. 34. (61) Chad Chaffin, Dodge, 173.639. 35. (55) Michael Waltrip, Dodge, 173.472. 36. (21) Ken Schrader, Ford, 173.410. 37. (32) Travis Kvapil, Chevy, 173.305. 38. (96) Tony Raines, Chevy, 173.038. 39. (37) Bill Elliott, Dodge, 172.999. 40. (40) David Stremme, Dodge, 172.474. 41. (26) Jamie McMurray, Ford, 172.447. 42. (7) Robby Gordon, Chevy, owner points. 43. (78) Kenny Wallace, Chevy, 172.491. Failed to qualify 44. (4) Scott Wimmer, Chevy, 172.035. 45. (49) Kevin Lepage, Dodge, 170.616. 46. (92) Chad Blount, Chevy, 170.342. 47. (46) Carl Long, Dodge, DNF.

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