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Statistically Speaking

2015 Forecast: Gordon, #2

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Jeff Gordon has talked about possibly retiring for more than seven years, but the announcement that 2015 would be his final season still caught quite a few people by surprise. The handwriting was on the wall, however, when Hendrick Motorsports announced they had extended Kasey Kahne’s contract by three years and at the same time strongly intimated that Chase Elliott would be running full time in 2016. There are only so many horses in the Hendrick stable.

Gordon wants to go out on a high note and last year’s strong showing in the regular season and most of the Chase might actually have been a positive nudge in the direction of retirement. He has seen too many legends attempt to run a few seasons too long and does not want diminished results to be part of his legacy. Fans will recall that Gordon’s first Cup start came in the 1992 season-ending race, which was also the final trip around the track for Richard Petty who had failed to win in more than eight years and scored only two top-10s in his last four seasons.

The fact that this is Gordon’s final season does not negatively impact his handicap; in fact, if anything it makes him of greater value to fantasy owners because of the motivation it provides. He has four championships to his credit, but the last of these came in 2001, three years before NASCAR implemented the Chase format. Since then he watched his teammate Jimmie Johnson score six Chase championships and feels that is one of the major accomplishments he is missing. If he fails to win it this year, there will be a hollow spot on his mantel.

The knockout-style Chase format is probably Gordon’s best chance to win a Cup because it allows for a few mistakes. His Achilles Heel during the previous decade prior to 2014 was an inability to remain perfect for 10 races, but that is not necessarily critical now. Of greater importance is the ability to keep oneself in constant contact with the leaders and take advantage of any mistake they make.

Gordon’s four victories last year were impressive and made him one of the best values more often than most other drivers, but his 23 top-10s were even more important for fantasy owners. The 2014 season was his best performance since 2009 when he scored 25 top-10s and earned an average finish of 10.2. Last year, he had an average of 10.4, but also led a lot of laps, scored one of the four best average running positions, and was never out of contention.

Fantasy owners should be aware that perhaps Gordon’s worst season came on the heels of his successful 2009 campaign. In 2010 he failed to win a race for only the third time in his career. He has so much more at stake this year, however, and that should make a huge difference. 
 

Avg. Finish

Starts

Track

Best Finish

2014 race 1 finish

2014 race 2 finish

6.84

44

Martinsville Speedway

1

12

2

7.25

4

Kentucky Speedway

5

6

 

7.95

22

Sonoma Raceway

1

2

 

8.38

21

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

1

1

 

9.86

44

Pocono Raceway

1

8

6

9.92

12

Homestead - Miami Speedway

1

10

 

10.28

18

Kansas Speedway

1

1

14

10.93

14

Chicagoland Speedway

1

2

 

10.97

32

Phoenix International Raceway

1

5

2

11.35

40

New Hampshire Motor Speedway

1

26

26

11.41

34

Darlington Raceway

1

7

 

11.43

44

Dover Downs International

1

15

1

11.84

25

Auto Club Speedway

1

13

 

11.88

41

Atlanta Motor Speedway

1

17

 

12.07

44

Michigan International Speedway

1

6

1

12.25

44

Bristol Motor Speedway

1

7

16

13.59

44

Richmond International Raceway

1

2

2

15.00

17

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

1

9

 

15.45

44

Charlotte Motor Speedway

1

7

2

16.18

44

Daytona International Speedway

1

4

12

16.64

22

Watkins Glen International

1

34

 

16.95

44

Talladega Superspeedway

1

39

26

17.64

28

Texas Motor Speedway

1

2

29

Inactive

12.38

8

North Wilkesboro Speedway

1

 

 

12.50

4

Homestead - Miami Speedway - old

5

 

 

15.00

23

North Carolina Speedway

1

 

 

 
Previous Forecasts

#3 Kevin Harvick
#4 Brad Keselowski
#5 Jimmie Johnson
#6 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
#7 Kyle Larson
#8 Matt Kenseth
#9 Jamie McMurray
#10 Denny Hamlin 

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.