Jeff Gordon's day at Michigan International Speedway was over before it ever really began, as a wreck on Lap 6 ended his afternoon prematurely.
Attempting to work his way up through the field after qualifying a disappointing 29th and struggling to find speed all weekend, Gordon was collected when Bobby Labonte broke loose and spun into his path.
Both drivers sustained significant damage, with Gordon's car requiring a tow truck to make it back to the garage for repairs.
"Bobby Labonte just lost it over there in Turn 2, Gordon said. "He just did one of those slow spins where I couldn't tell which direction he was going to go, so I had to guess and I guessed the wrong way. I didn't really have anywhere to go."
Misfortune has been a common theme throughout the year for Gordon, who has seen promising runs at Bristol and Texas end either due to mechanical failures or accidents. At Bristol, Gordon was leading when a cut tire sent him hard into the wall. Four weeks later at Texas the No. 24 was in third when a broken suspension part ended his night.
A third-place finish at Dover two weeks ago, however, followed by a 12th at Pocono had seemed to turn his season around. He entered Michigan ranked 11th, just two points outside of being inside the top 10 in the standings.
But instead of gaining ground Sunday, Gordon instead will take a major hit and drop considerably down the championship order.
"I just can't believe the way this season is going for us in this Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, he said. "It seems like we can run all day long when we can't get the car right but when we finally get the car right, something like this happens.
"We were really going to march up through the field. It's unfortunate. This team just continues to have to face adversity and I appreciate how strong they are during it, but I just wish we didn't all have to be tested quite this much."
He attributed part of his problem Sunday to a poor effort in qualifying that placed him towards the rear where mishaps frequently occur. But, regardless of the reasoning, barring momentous attrition and a miraculous comeback by Gordon, the Quicken Loans 400 will be the fifth time this season he has finished 25th or worse.
"It's unfortunate this season we are having is just unbelievable to me," Gordon said. "We are at times struggling to get the speed then when we get the speed we struggle to finish because of stuff like this. I thought we were being tested last year, boy we are really being tested this year.
"I'm happy with the way this team is sticking together, but boy I tell you these moments when they add up they really can be frustrating."