It wasn't more than a few inches, but it was a mistake that cost Jeff Gordon a chance to win Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and with it, likely any chance to win a fifth NASCAR championship.
The mishap occurred as Gordon was leading the Sylvania 300 and hit pit road for what should have been a routine pit stop. But as he slid into his stall he overshot his pit box with the nose of his Chevrolet touching the white line -- a penalty if Gordon's crew services his car before pushing him back.
The delay dropped Gordon out of the lead and back to 22nd in the running order. And he was never able to recover from his mistake and finished 15th.
"I'm highly disappointed in myself," Gordon said. The team put me in a great position. We had a decent car and then track position made it into a great car. So it was obviously important to maintain that and I just came in and slid through.
"I knew it was close. When I got in there, the front started to slide. And I knew I was carrying a little bit more speed. I knew it was going to be close but I was hoping it would stop just at the line. I saw the official react and I knew we were in trouble."
For Gordon it was a far different feeling than what he experienced a week at Chicagoland Speedway when he battled back from a lap down to finish sixth. He said the spirited charge "lit a fire" under him and he was excited to go New Hampshire and contend for the win.
And that enthusiasm was pervasive Sunday. Starting third Gordon ran up front in the early going and then took control just past halfway before the fateful pit stop.
The 15th-place finish dropped Gordon to eighth in the standings, 42 points behind leader Matt Kenseth, who won again for the second straight week. It's a deficit Gordon knows is going to be hard to overcome.
"If Kenseth keeps doing what he's doing, it's not going to matter what anybody else does," Gordon said. "For us, we have to be realistic and look at our points position and outcome and right now we're not that far out of fourth, so that's a realistic goal for us right now.
"But anything is possible. We go to these next several races and go on a tear, who knows? But we're higher in points than where we started this thing, so we'll just keep that going."