The 2005 season could be broken easily into three parts, each with its own separate storyline. In the first 10 races, Jeff
Gordon established himself as a championship contender. He started the season with a dramatic victory in the Daytona 500 by passing
Dale Earnhardt Jr with two laps remaining. After posting just one top-10 finish in the next four races, Gordon dropped
to 12th in the series standings. However, he rebounded with a victory at Martinsville by making up 3 laps due to a mid-race tire problem.
Contact with Kurt Busch sent the defending series champion into the wall as Gordon took second place. He then passed Sterling
Marlin to capture the win. Three races later, Gordon flexed his restrictor plate muscle with a dominating performance
in the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. The following week he posted a runner-up finish at Darlington Raceway and moved to second in the points
standings. Gordon didn't know it at the time,
but that would be the high-water mark of his season.
The second act of Gordon's 2005 season was nothing short of an odyssey. Wrecks at Richmond, Charlotte, and Dover (with a little help from Tony Stewart) dropped Gordon to 11th in the series standings. A missed setup at Michigan was followed by a broken transmission on the road course in Sonoma. A wreck at Chicago in mid-July after running toward the rear of the field for the bulk of the day saw Gordon drop to 15th in the series standings. With his chances of qualifying for the 'chase for the championship' dwindling, Gordon posted five straight top-15 finishes from late July thru late August. However, a 21st place finish at California and contact with the wall at Richmond sealed his fate. After failing to qualify for the 'chase,' crew chief Robbie Loomis stepped down and was replaced by car chief Steve Letarte. The combination struggled at the outset as Gordon posted three finishes of 30th or worse in his first four races with Letarte.
Gordon's final act of the season consisted of the last five races. A victory at Martinsville was followed by a runner-up finish at Atlanta-- a 1.5-mile track where Gordon had struggled on a weekly basis in 2005. He closed the year with a third-place finish at Phoenix and a 9th place effort at Homestead, where his finish did not match the overall effort. Gordon said the last 10 races of 2005 were in essence the first 10 races of his 2006 season. He closed the season with a number of solid efforts, giving his team hope that 2006 won't be the rebuilding year many seem to expect.
|Auto Club 500||28||30||10|
|Golden Corral 500||25||39||12|
|Food City 500||4||15||12|
|Advance Auto Parts 500||16||1||6|
|Radio Shack 500||7||15||5|
|Save Mart 350||1||33||14|
|New England 300||21||25||15|
|Sirius at the Glen||14||14||13|
|Bass Pro/MBNA 500||24||2||12|
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