It has now been nine years and counting since Jeff Gordon claimed the Cup Series title. While the Chase format has played a part in that, considering he would have won two more titles under the old format, the fact is that his time as the dominant driver in the sport is gone and isn't coming back. That being said, Gordon isn't exactly washed up, either. He may not be as great as he once was, but he is a still a top-10 driver in the sport.
He finished the 2010 season with 11 top-five finishes, 17 top-10s and a 13.4 average finish. Gordon peaked during a five-race stretch from early June to early July, when he reeled off five straight top-five finishes. He made the Chase, but he was never able to reach that elite level in the second half of the season. Gordon failed to finish in the top five in the final seven races of 2010, ending the year ninth in points.
He enters the 2011 season in the middle of the longest winless drought of his career, and he has made just one trip to Victory Lane in the last three seasons. However, fantasy owners that focus only on his lack of victories are missing out. During the same three-year span when he has just the one win, Gordon also ranks in the top 10 in terms of points scored at all track types with the exception of superspeedways. More importantly, he ranks second in points scored at intermediate and short tracks. Just a reminder to fantasy owners, 30 of the 36 races are run on those two types of tracks each season.
Hendrick Motorsports shuffled their lineups in the offseason, and Gordon will be teamed with crew chief Alan Gustafson and share a shop with Mark Martin in 2011. Gordon's talent behind the wheel isn't going anywhere, and the shakeup could be the spark he needs to get back to the next level. He probably isn't going to win more than a couple of races, but at the end of the day, Gordon is an every-week fantasy starter that will finish the year somewhere in the top 10. He is a safe, solid pick in the first round of any draft.
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