2009: The Contender

Season Recap

After a winless season in 2008, Jeff Gordon and crew chief Steve Letarte looked to 2009 as the year to get back into the hunt for victories and championships. Although they fell short of the championship at the conclusion of 2009, they firmly re-established themselves as weekly contenders having led NASCAR in top-10 finishes.

Gordon kicked off the season was a 13th place finish in the rain-shortened Daytona 500. Had the race gone to its conclusion, Gordon would have likely finished significantly better, but controlling the weather is beyond his pay grade. The DuPont team served notice of their improvement with a runner-up effort in Fontana, California. Gordon struggled on the intermediate tracks in 2008, but had several strong runs on the 1.5- and 2-mile tracks in 2009. Gordon overcame a late-race mental error at Las Vegas to post a 6th place finish, and followed that up with a runner-up effort at Atlanta. During the off-weekend in March, he traveled to Belgium with his wife Ingrid and daughter Ella. He visited two of the country's racetracks -- Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps and Circuit Zolder. It was during this time that Gordon acknowledged his interest in the proposed Canadian Motor Speedway project. Gordon was part of the design group hoping to build a superspeedway in Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada, in the Niagara Falls area.

Gordon posted back-to-back 4th place finishes at Bristol and Martinsville to close out March. He finally broke through with a long-awaited victory at Texas Motor Speedway in April, holding off Jimmie Johnson in the closing stages. With a solid points lead and his first victory in 17 months under his belt, the DuPont team became an early favorite for the championship. However, those hopes took a hit as Gordon finished 25th at Phoenix and 37th at Talladega after an early crash. An 8th place finish at Richmond, and a 5th place effort at Darlington put him back on the right track, but a 14th place finish in the rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600 and a 26th place finish at Dover dropped him to 2nd in the points standings. Gordon rebounded with three top-5 finishes in the next four races, including runner-up finishes at Michigan and Loudon.

Summer School resulted in a rough patch for Gordon with three finishes outside of the top-20, including a 37th place finish at Watkins Glen after slamming head-first into the guardrail. Nevertheless, an 8th place finish at Atlanta and 3rd at Richmond gave the team some momentum heading into the 10-race Chase For The Championship. Gordon started the Chase behind the proverbial 8-ball with a 15th place finish at Loudon. Runner-up finishes at Kansas and Fontana moved Gordon up in the points standings, though he distantly trailed Jimmie Johnson following a 20th place finish at Talladega after a final lap crash. Gordon closed the season with a 13th place finish at Texas, 9th at Phoenix, and 6th at Homestead. Although his 25 top-10 finishes led the Cup series, he scored just one victory and was eliminated from title contention when Johnson took the green flag at Homestead. The recurring back pain that plagued Gordon early in the 2009 season had dissipated enough by season's end where he voiced support of "three or four more years" behind the wheel of the #24 Chevrolet.

2009 Statistics
RaceStartFinishPts Position
Daytona 50031312
Auto Club 500622
Shelby 4272861
Kobalt 5001621
Food City 5001041
Goody's 500141
Samsung 500211
Subway 5004251
Aaron's 49914372
Crown Royal 400281
Southern 500251
Coca-Cola 6003141
Autism 40042262
Pocono 500242
Lifelock 4002722
Save Mart 3501392
Lenox Tools 301222
Coke Zero 4002282
Lifelock 400722
Brickyard 4002293
Pennsylvania 500383
Nascar @ The Glen31373
Carfax 4002122
Sharpie 50033233
Pep Boys 500482
Chevy 400732
Sylvania 300101510
AAA 400768
Price Chopper 400927
Pepsi 5001025
Banking 500943
Tums 500253
Amp Energy 5003203
Dickies 5001133
Checker 500k1493
Miami 4002063

1 win. 3rd in points
Samsung 500

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