For Jeff Gordon the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was satisfying yet, unfortunately, unrewarding.
For Carl Edwards and Joey Logano it was neither.
And, as it stands now, none of the three is likely to make this year’s edition of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. The odds stand against them.
Of course, the odds can be beaten, right?
In the current “wildcard” standings – which are composed of those drivers not among the top 10 in points – Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch are at the top.
Kahne is 13th in points but, more important, he has two victories. The final two entries into the Chase will come from those drivers outside the top 10 with the most victories.
Busch is 11th in points and has an insurance policy with one victory.
If the Chase began tomorrow, Kahne and Busch would be in. Gordon, Edwards and Logano would not.
However, the Chase does not begin tomorrow. It will begin after the Richmond race scheduled for Sept. 8 – six races from now.
Yes, anything can happen but at this point, Kahne has a comfort level. Busch is by no means a certainty but at the least he does not have to take chances.
Not so for Gordon, Edwards and Logano. It’s time for desperate measures, especially after the Brickyard 400.
Gordon, a four-time Sprint Cup champion with Hendrick Motorsports, has won the Brickyard 400 four times. So has teammate Jimmie Johnson, this year’s winner.
Gordon finished fifth at Indy and, with Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s fourth-place run, that gave Hendrick three drivers among the top five.
Incidentally, Earnhardt Jr. is now the points leader for the first time since 2004.
Gordon has not finished worse than 12th,which includes three finishes of sixth and two of fifth, in his last seven races.
That is decidedly better than his efforts earlier this season. During one nine-race stretch, he finished among the top 10 only once – and beyond the top 20 six times.
He came into Indy 17th in points and, obviously, in need of victory – make that victories – to make the Chase.
Victory didn’t come at Indy. Fifth place was nice and it lifted him to 15th in points, but …“I’m pretty disappointed really,” Gordon said.
“It’s always nice to finish in the top five but at this point in the season, the way our season has gone with so many missed opportunities that we’ve had, I feel like it was a little bit of a missed opportunity.
“We needed track position there at the end and we didn’t get it when it counted most and it cost us.”
For Edwards and Logano, well, there’s no question they did not get what they needed at Indy. Fact is both had a miserable day.
Edwards, in his first start with new crew chief Chad Norris, suffered an engine malady early in the race, fell well behind and finished 29th, four laps down.
He is now12th in points, 61 out of 10th place. He has yet to win this season.
And, as has been duly recorded, Edwards finished in a tie with Tony Stewart for last year’s title but lost because of the tiebreaker.
Stewart had five wins for the season – all of which came during the Chase – Edwards only one.
“I think we are officially racing only for wins,” Edwards said. “We were going over what happened at Indy while it is fresh in our mind to determine the best strategy.
“Chad and I want to make sure they all know that we do not quit. We keep going. We don’t give up. We put our best effort out there and if it is meant to be, it will be.”
As if Edwards’ season has not been difficult enough, it might have been made more troublesome with the departure of crew chief Bob Osborne a week ago due to health reasons.
Even Edwards admitted it was unexpected.
“We all sat down on Monday and talked about it and Bob kind of let us in on all he has been going through,” Edwards said. “We all decided that his departure was the best course of action.
“The thing is we are all behind Bob 100 percent and hope he gets better and feels better. He is still able to contribute in a huge way with our team.”
When asked if he could elaborate on Osborne’s health problems, Edwards said: “No, I cannot.”
He added that to make the Chase his strategy, and that of his Roush Fenway Racing team, is simple.
“I think it will involve lots of pushing on the right pedal and turning left and going as fast as possible,” Edwards said. “We have to take chances.
“We have to go race. We can race like that. It will actually be a big relief in a way because there is no other choice.
“We just go race for wins. I wouldn’t bet against us. We can do it.”
Logano was involved in a multicar wreck with Matt Kenseth and Bobby Labonte, and he ultimately finished 33rd, 16 laps down.
He is now 17th in points, 99 out of 10th – but he does have one victory.
That, at the moment, gives him an edge over Edwards and Gordon.
But, when it comes to the Chase, not much else. Which means he’s among a trio of drivers who now, it seems, must resort to desperate measures.