Jeff Gordon believes winning for the first time this year will be vital to his chances of contending for the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup title. The four-time champion, who is already safely in the championship Chase that starts next week, has been win-less for the past 54 races, dating back to April last year.
The Hendrick Motorsports driver sits currently second in the standings, but is expected to drop outside the top five once the points are reset next week when the Chase starts at Loudon.
The 12 drivers in the championship hunt will start the final 10 races with 5000 points plus 10 more for every win thus far, of which Gordon has none heading into Saturday's race at Richmond. He believes that he will need to win for the first time soon as he reckons it is not realistic to aim at this year's title without a single victory.
"Maybe Jimmie [Johnson] or Denny [Hamlin] who have 50 points up on everybody else, I think it's possible for them not to win races because they already have a big head start, or at least a decent-sized one. But I think for us, I think we're going to have to win," Gordon said. "I'm not giving up on it yet. We haven't won yet this year. It's not from a lack of effort... A few things go our way and what is it that makes that happen, other than putting fast race cars out there on the track and executing well?
"I still think we could have won three or four races up to this point, if not more already this season, and I can't see why we can't still win multiple races before this year is out."
Gordon has yet to win a title under the Chase format, having won for the last time in 2001 under the old cumulative points system. He still believes consistency to be key in the final 10 races, and reckons that is one of his team's strengths, along with the improved communication he has within his group. However he insists that only a win will get his side of the garage to perform at championship level in the next 10 weeks.
"While we haven't won this year, and don't get me wrong, a win would really add so much to our Chase hopes and our championship hopes, just because it gets you to that next level," said Gordon. "But we've got to live up to our strengths and our strengths are that we never give up... I think our communication, especially between [crew chief] Steve [Letarte] and myself is definitely improved and so that has a lot to do with why we're stronger and why we're better.
"I think we're probably the most consistent team out there. That's always been one of our strengths and certainly always been one of mine and why the old points system was so good for me. I approach it the same way with 10 races to go."
Gordon has finished second twice this year, the last time at Richmond in May.