Halfway through the season, Jeff Gordon was buried in points and his Chase prospects looked grim. Facing an uphill and seemingly impossible battle to get into the top 10, he knew the only chance he had to make the Chase was to concentrate on winning races.
That strategy paid off, as Gordon won at Pocono and finished high enough in points to snatch the final wild card spot away from Kyle Busch.
But now in the Chase for the eighth time in his career, the question is this: Is Gordon going to change his aggressive approach with playoffs starting this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway?
Not a chance, Gordon said Friday.
"That's what's gotten us in this thing and that's what's going to keep us in it and get us that championship," he said. "If anything, what these last three weeks and really this season has proven to us is that you have to aggressively pursue wins."
That go-for-broke style paid dividends heading into the Chase, as the No. 24 team finished second, second and third in the last three races.
"We're going to go out there with nothing to lose and everything to gain – just the same way we approached these last several weeks," Gordon said.
Another reason factoring into Gordon's decision to continue to pursue wins and not worry so much about points is the lesson he learned a year ago when he entered the Chase as a title favorite. Then, Gordon and crew chief Alan Gustafson decided to be conservative and not do anything which might cost themselves a potential championship.
But that plan backfired, as Gordon was a non-factor throughout Chase, going winless and posting six finishes outside the top 10 (including five finishes of 20th or worse).
"We just didn't start the Chase off the way I felt like we needed to," he said of 2012. "And I think some of it was that we didn't have that win-or-nothing-type attitude. We kind of got into that 'We have 10 weeks and we need to be consistent and do what's gotten us here (approach).'
"That's not the case for us this year. We didn't expect to be here. The pressure is not on us right now and we can go out there and be aggressive and do our thing and do it under the radar."
Following a come-from-behind runner-up finish at Richmond, the 24 team according to Gordon is "rejuvenated" and has "an excellent opportunity to do something pretty spectacular."
"I think the only way you don't hear from us in the Chase is if some of the same things that bit us earlier in the year bite us again," Gordon said. "(If) we finish where we are running or where our performance level is at, then we're going to be a major threat in this thing."