Despite all the adversity he's faced this season, Jeff Gordon remains optimistic. Now he just needs some momentum to help his fading Chase hopes.
Tonight's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race could well provide the needed boost for Gordon and his No. 24 team, which remains 25 points out of 20th place and a couple wins shy of a Wild Card berth.
"I've said before that I don't believe in luck and I'm not a very superstitious person, but we're being tested for a reason right now," Gordon said. "We don't know what that reason is but we hope it will make us stronger."
While his miserable start to the season may be a point of stress for the No. 24 team, points don't matter this weekend, allowing Gordon and crew chief Alan Gustafson the opportunity to take a step back and reevaluate their strategy for the remainder of the season.
Gordon has had fast cars, but bad luck has been the culprit behind just one top-five and two top-10 finishes, and a fast car is exactly what Gordon will need if he's to win his record-setting fourth Sprint All-Star Race.
"If we're in contention, we're going to push hard," he said. "... I'm glad we're back to a 10-lap shootout at the end, because the highlights of this race will always show two guys running side-by-side through all the turns, and one slides up and hits the other and there's a lot of contact coming to the checkered flag."
Despite not winning the event since 2001, Gordon has had a lot of success in the All-Star race in recent years. His average running position of 8.3 is fifth-best in Sprint Cup Series, and he has an average finish of 9.3.
Can he win tonight and build momentum for the second half of the regular season?
"We sure hope we can win this race," Gordon said. "It's been awhile since we've dominated or even been in contention to win the All-Star Race the way we used to, but I think we have a race car and race team that can do it this year."
Even if Gordon can't win the race, Saturday night could provide an excellent opportunity for Gustafson to gather data in preparation for next Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 and Charlotte's October Chase race.
"We need points and we need wins," Gordon said. "This 600 is a lot more important than the All-Star Race. We can use this as a test for next week and we're going to go outside of our box a little bit in search of more speed."