2013 Daytona 500: Don't sleep on Jeff Gordon

Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

He's one of the most decorated drivers in NASCAR history, and he quietly took second place in the pole qualifier for Sunday's Daytona 500. While Danica Patrick has received all the attention, Gordon is still aiming for that elusive Sprint Cup championship.

Lost in DaniMania this week in preparation for the Daytona 500 is the driver to her right at the start of the race.

Three-time Daytona winner Jeff Gordon has fallen from prominence in the sport, despite being one of only five drivers to win the sport's featured race three or more times. Of the four others on that list - Dale Jarrett, Bobby Allison (three each), Cale Yarborough (four) and Richard Petty (seven) - Gordon's won it most recently, in 2005.

Gordon has only missed the Chase once since 2004, but he only has four Chase wins in that time.

Does he have a chance Sunday? He'll start second, just losing the pole to the far more publicized Danica Patrick.

Teammate Kasey Kahne, who will start in the sixth position, doesn't think Gordon should be discounted.

"When I was out there with him, I could tell his car was handling and he had the speed, probably very similar to what my car had," Kahne recently told the Dallas Star-Telegram. "I'm really excited for Sunday. I'd imagine Jeff is, also. He's won a lot at Daytona over the years, so this is a place that he knows he can win, and he has a great shot at winning when he's here."

Gordon joked with Patrick, suggesting he slowed down to let her take the pole and the attention that comes with it. Gordon finds himself in relative obscurity now despite his past success and winning the last race of the 2012 season.

Those wins may come more infrequently, but it's not as if Gordon is bowing out. In a recent interview with Al.com, Gordon mentioned his final goal in the sport.

"I've never won a Sprint Cup ever since they've gone to this format," he said after Sunday's qualifying. "I've come close. In '07 I came close and got beat. To me, obviously there's only one thing left and that's to win a Sprint Cup Championship."

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