Gordon's struggles continue as Bowyer wins - NASCAR Notes - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

NASCAR NOTES: Gordon's struggles continue as Bowyer wins

Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy" Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy"
Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

In the 1990s Jeff Gordon was called NASCAR's "Golden Boy" as he captured three of his four Cup Series Championships. Now with a series of poor decisions and bad fortune, the NASCAR great finds himself in jeopardy of missing this year's Chase battle.

Gordon has been competitive in the 2012 season, but he has not been able to show the results of those competitive runs. In fact, the No. 24 team has either blown an engine, had tire issues, or made poor decisions in eight of the first 16 events.

"I feel like it's really been a test for us," said Gordon of his misfortunes. "When you have high expectations on yourself, and your teammates are winning and doing well, it makes it even more frustrating."

After Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350, Gordon finds himself ranked No. 18 in the Series point battle. With four drivers ahead of him who have already notched a win, Gordon has to win soon if he wants to claim a wildcard berth in the postseason.

"This year, I've had to do more on a personal level," continued Gordon, speaking of how he keeps his team motivated. "Putting some words out there that could be key to keeping us together and getting us through those tough times."

For a little while on Sunday, Gordon seemed to be headed in a direction that would end his string of bad luck. Starting on the outside pole, Gordon led 13 laps early on and established himself as a contender. However, a miscalculation on fuel cost Gordon a chance at victory and continued his plagued season.

Gordon's misfortune was Clint Bowyer's gain as the young driver moved to the front and captured his first win for Michael Waltrip Racing. Afterwards, Bowyer was very proud that he outrun his idol Gordon.

"I just looked up and Jeff Gordon is sitting there on the wall," commented Bowyer on his win. "He's won this race many times, he's a champion of this sport and I just beat him."

Bowyer was not the only person celebrating in the Sonoma afternoon sun. Kurt Busch drove a crippled and unsponsored race car to a third-place finish.

"Today we came home third," said a more subdued Busch in the media center. "I clipped a set of tires and it broke the front suspension and the rear panhard bar and I couldn't compete for the win after that."

Bowyer also had his hands full holding off Tony Stewart in the closing laps and for that, he was thankful.

"I barely held him off the last three or four laps," said Bowyer of the battle. "But somehow, some way we did"

Gordon was able to battle back to a sixth place finish but, as Bowyer and Busch celebrated after their run, Gordon was busy trying to find a way to keep his team positive after another heartbreaking loss.

Next week, he gets another chance.

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