Found September 11, 2012 on Fox Sports Arizona:
PLAYERS: Jeff GordonKyle Busch
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PHOENIX Skewing more toward the battle cry of a life coach than the confident resolve of a NASCAR superstar, Jeff Gordon served up this positive declaration: After Saturday, anythings possible. Before Saturday, however, the potential for a Gordon visit to Phoenix this week certainly seemed like a longshot. But with NASCAR committed to dispatching a Chase for the Cup qualifier to each host city in its upcoming version of the sprint car playoffs, the four-time series champion was obliged to hit town as part of the mediafan promotion on Tuesday. To earn the right to serve as NASCAR's goodwill ambassador in Phoenix (where this seasons next-to-last Chase event occurs Nov. 11), all that was required of Gordon was to erase Kyle Busch's 12-point advantage in the standings in Saturday night's final pre-Chase race at Richmond. With nothing easy in a normal NASCAR race, Gordons quest to make the Chase was abetted by handling difficulty in the first half of the race that left him a lap down. But adjustments and sage pitting decisions that accompanied rain-related delays in Richmond along with tactical mistakes by the opposition helped Gordon close at a torrid pace. His second-place finish was good enough for 12th place in the Chase standings three points ahead of Busch. I was equally excited at that as if I had won it, he said. But what Gordon accomplished in addition to the coveted Chase berth was an opportunity to resurrect the moustache that accompanied him around the track during the early years. A moustache isnt exactly a solemn talisman to haul into the playoffs, a la the ubiquitous NHL playoff beard; consider it more of a payment for promising (threatening?) to grow facial hair if a rally in the standings ended in a top-12 spot. I hoped that I was going to have to do it, because I wanted to be in the Chase, said Gordon, explaining that garage chatter among members of the Hendrick Motorsports team led to the origin of the moustache revival. My wife quickly reminded me. Im a man of my word. But Gordon is not a man who devotes much energy to good-luck charms or omens. After admitting that fans and family offered myriad suggestions to help end some of this seasons on-track struggles, he offered his opinion on what really prevails. Im a big believer in you make your luck, he said. What works is a great team and putting out your best effort. Its our job to change those results and fix em. And Saturdays comeback in Richmond was a demonstration of how to fight through the tough times without assistance from a rabbits foot or swell moustache. It was definitely epic it was incredible, Gordon said. As a racecar driver, every race has some sort of significance. There was a lot riding on it. It was more than just trying to go out and win the race. Last Saturday, it was finish high and qualify or bust. To do that, Gordon had to overcome a miserable beginning in Richmond. Its funny the perspective people have on the outside, he said, and what you see as a racecar driver. I was driving a lot harder in the first half of that race when the car was not handling right. But after some adjustments, the No. 24 Chevy began reeling in competitors at a brisk pace. When youre running cars down, you kind of have that intimidation factor, said Gordon, now 41 and showing some gray in his four-day break from the razor, because they look in the rearview mirror and they see youre faster and can run em down. You always want that to be in the second half of the race not the first.
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