2012: Fight On

Season Recap

Jeff Gordon's 2012 season began with high expectations as his second season with crew chief Alan Gustafson was expected to build on the three victories from the previous year. What transpired was a series of unfortunate events in the first half of the season, a late summer hot streak, and an inconsistent performance in the Chase for the Championship.

The Bud Shootout seemed to predict things to come as Gordon led the event as the laps wound down, but things flipped -- literally -- with 2 laps to go. After bumping Kyle Busch, Gordon moved up the track and triggered a multi-car incident. His car flipped three times before coming to rest upside down. He escaped unscathed. The Daytona 500 was an exercise in frustration as Gordon's engine blew on lap 81. After workmanlike performances at Phoenix and Las Vegas, he finished 35th at Bristol following contact from Dale Earnhardt Jr. Gordon had been running in the top-5 with less than 150 laps to go when inadvertent contact cut down his tire. Gordon led 329 laps at Martinsville Speedway and seemed destined to breakthrough with a much-needed victory. However, a late race caution forced a final restart. Clint Bowyer dove to the inside line and took Gordon out of victory contention following contact. To make matters worse, the #24 car ran out of fuel which resulted in a 14th place finish.

A top-5 finish at Texas was offset by sub-20th finishes at Kansas and Richmond. He captured the pole at Talladega but was taken out in a crash with 45 laps to go. Tire issues at Darlington dropped Gordon to 24th in the series standings -- his low water mark of the 2012 season. As spring turned to summer, Gordon's finishes began improving. He posted five top-6 finishes in a six race span from mid-June to late-July and moved up to 15th in the series standings. Sandwiched in the summer run was an off-week trip to Rwanda for the opening of the Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence. The Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation contributed $1.5 million to provide cancer care to the rural northern region of the country.

In 2012, Gordon's pediatric cancer foundation continued to make strides in the U.S. and abroad. In addition to the project in Rwanda, the JGCF partnered with Kick-It to hold kickball games in several communities (thank you Miami!). Throughout the month of September, Gordon matched all funds raised in the Kick-It events to make further strides for pediatric cancer research.

Gordon returned to the NASCAR circuit at Pocono Raceway after the Rwanda excursion. The weekend started with the announcement that Gordon would be presented with the Heisman Humanitarian Award for his charity work off the racetrack. On the track, he was still lacking a much-needed victory to qualify for the Chase wildcard berth. The victory came on an overcast afternoon at Pocono Raceway in early August. Just after the halfway point, with rain nearing the track, Gordon restarted in 6th place. He avoided a multi-car incident that collected some in the top-5 and forced others to slow. Heavier rain began falling and the race was called. His victory was marred by the death of a race fan who was struck by lightning in the parking area of the track. A 21st place finish at Watkins Glen and engine issues at Michigan seemed to seal his fate for the Chase. Just when things looked bleak, Gordon and the #24 team put together three consecutive top-3 finishes.

Gordon finished 3rd at Bristol and 2nd at Atlanta. He lamented not tapping race winner Denny Hamlin at Atlanta to get a victory to qualify for the Chase. He entered Richmond needing to finish 13 spots ahead of Kyle Busch to qualify for the Chase. The #24 car performed poorly in the first half of the Richmond race before rain halted the proceedings. Following a lengthy delay, Gordon's car came to life after midnight. The runner-up finish -- coupled with Busch's sub-par night -- allowed Gordon to qualify for the Chase for the 8th time in the 9-year history of NASCAR's "post-season."

A stuck throttle in the opening Chase event at Chicagoland sent Gordon into the turn 1 wall, thus making his Chase hopes a longshot after just one event. Nevertheless, he climbed as high as 6th in the points standings following a 3rd place effort at Loudon and back-to-back runner-up finishes at Dover and Talladega. On the final lap at Talladega, Gordon was running outside the top-10 entering turn 3. After Tony Stewart triggered a multiple-car wreck, Gordon was shoved to the apron by Kyle Busch and made it through the carnage. A pit road speeding penalty at Charlotte and a middling 10th place finish at Kansas essentially sealed his fate for the 2012 season.

At Martinsville, Gordon ran 4th in the late stages when contact from Bowyer forced him to lose several positions. The frustration continued a week later at Texas when he was running 2nd with 65 laps to go but was forced to pit for a tire issue. At Phoenix, Gordon was running in the top-5 when Bowyer once again made contact with Gordon's car while attempting to pass. Gordon waited for Bowyer to make his way around the track and made contact with the right side of the #15 Toyota. The contact sent both Bowyer and Gordon into the retaining wall, collecting Joey Logano and Aric Almirola in the process. A melee in the garage area ensued between the #24 and #15 teams. Gordon was docked 25 points and fined $100,000 for his actions. The points penalty dropped him outside the top-10 in the standings.

Gordon concluded the 2012 season in stirring fashion with a victory under the lights at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He ran in the top-10 for the balance of the race, but needed fuel strategy to pull off his first Cup win at the South Florida track. Gordon stretched his fuel to the final pit stop and didn't need to come in when race leaders Kyle Busch and Martin Truex came to pit road with under 15 laps to go. The victory provided positive momentum entering 2013.

The 2012 season was about the fight. It was about staying in the battle and never giving up no matter how bleak the circumstances seemed. Nobody expected Jeff Gordon to qualify for the Chase as late as the rain delay in Richmond. Gordon and his race team showed throughout 2012 what it means to truly "Fight On."

In his own words on pediatric cancer
"It's the success stories that keep you wanting to do more, and give you hope that what you're doing is making a difference. But if they're all successful, then you think, 'oh, we can move on.' And you can't move on, because there are still things that need to be done, and lives that are still being lost." - Jeff Gordon

2012 Statistics
RaceStartFinishPts Position
Daytona 500164035
Subway 500k30822
Kobalt Tools 400161217
Food City 50043523
Auto Club 400212625
Goody's 50091421
Samsung 50034417
STP 400202118
Capital City 40062317
Aaron's 49913323
Southern 500123524
Coca-Cola 60023822
FedEx 400141321
Pocono 400141922
Quicken Loans 40028620
Save Mart 3502618
Quaker State 4009518
Coke Zero 40051217
Lenox 3018617
Brickyard 4009515
Pennsylvania 40027113
Finger Lakes 355k122115
Pure Michigan 400112816
Irwin Tools Night Race11315
AdvoCare 5005213
Federated Auto 4002212
Geico 400193512
Sylvania 3001312
AAA 4007210
Good Sam 500626
Bank of America 50013189
Hollywood Casino 40019108
Tums 5001176
AAA 50016146
AdvoCare 500k113011
Miami 40015110

2 wins. 10th in points
Pennsylvania 400
Miami 400

Jeff Gordon Statistics

In memory of Jackson Panzarello

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