Jeff Gordon heads toward his car after driver introductions Sunday at Atlanta… (Wesley Hitt / Getty Images…)
Jeff Gordon, four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, was angry with himself after finishing second to Denny Hamlin in Sunday's race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Gordon is currently on the outside of the Chase for the Cup points standings, in which the top 10 drivers automatically qualify for a 10-race playoff while two wild-card drivers are selected based on wins and points. All other Sprint Cup drivers are just circling the track during those races with no hopes of winning the series championship, although they can still pick up the winner's paycheck.
Gordon could have helped his chances with a victory Sunday, but after a late crash brought the field together for a two-lap race to the finish, Gordon missed a chance in Turn 3 on the last lap to overtake Hamlin for the victory.
“I guess I'm getting soft in my old age,” said Gordon, 41, of not moving alongside Hamlin when he had the chance. “I'm too nice. Fifteen years ago, I would have just moved him right up the racetrack. I don't know why I didn't do that.”
While 10 drivers have now qualified for the Chase, six drivers are battling for the two wild-card spots. Kasey Kahne is in the best position with two wins. Gordon, Kyle Busch, Marcus Ambrose, Ryan Newman and Joey Logano all have one win. If any of the five win next week in Richmond, they'll likely join Kahne as the wild-card entrants.
"It's going to be intense,” Gordon said of the Richmond race. “Don't get in front of me on that last lap.
“I've been a part of it where I've either been trying to get in like this, or trying to stay in the Chase. There's so much on the line, trying to win the race. That race is always intense. But when you look at how many guys have to win the points and everything else, it's going to be a pretty crazy night."
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