Fast forward a season. Gordon enters Pocono still looking for his first win of this season and hoping to hold on to his precarious 10th-place spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship standings.
And, he again can make it another win to remember. Once the dominant "Rainbow Warrior," Gordon turns 42 on Sunday, long removed from the era when he was always the driver to beat at any track.
But the birthday boy still knows how to drive and he hasn't forgotten how to win. What he's still chasing is that elusive fifth Cup championship, 11 years after he celebrated his last one.
It's what drives him as he's changed from the driver who shot NASCAR into the mainstream and made it must-see TV into the sport's elder statesman.
Gordon would love to make another championship push in the No. 24.
"This year has been a strange year for us," Gordon said. "I feel like last year we showed a little bit more speed up to this point and I felt like all we needed were some breaks to go our way, and a few slight changes to get ourselves in. This year, we just can't seem to really get ahold of it."
Gordon holds the 10th and final locked-in spot in the 12-driver Chase field. Here's where it gets tricky for the driver known as Four Time: He's just one point ahead of Tony Stewart, five points ahead of Martin Truex Jr. and six points ahead of Brad Keselowski. The final two wild card spots in the Chase go to the drivers in 11th to 20th place with the most wins. Should Gordon fall out of the top 10 and not win a race, he'll be on the outside of the Chase.
Nationwide Series • Brad Keselowski took control with 35 laps left to win the NASCAR Nationwide race at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa, on Saturday night.
Sprint Cup Series
O Sunday, 11 a.m.
TV • ESPN