“Gloom, despair, and agony on me
Deep, dark depression, excessive misery
If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all
Gloom, despair, and agony on me”
This was a song performed on the 1970’s television show Hee Haw. I’m sure this is what Jeff Gordon and A.J. Allmendinger have been thinking about the 2012 season so far.
Now, every season there are always a handful of drivers who come into the year with a new ride or feeling good about their performance at the end of the previous season and they just seem to have terrible luck that year. It’s a part of racing, not everything is always going to go perfect for you, but normally those drivers who do have a bad year can find a little positive somewhere.
That’s hardly been the case for Gordon and Allmendinger so far this year, who have just had the most abysmal luck most people can remember in recent seasons.
Gordon sits 22nd in the points and Allmendinger sits 25th, respectively, but if you were to ask both about their performance in 2012, I’m sure both would tell you how much they’ve left on the table. Gordon recently said via his Twitter, “Whenever we catch a break and put ourselves in position we’ll be in victory circle”. And all you need to hear from Allmendinger about his season so far happened over his radio at Pocono after he got involved in a crash on the first lap and said, “I hate this ****** year”.
The difference between these two guys this year and all of the other drivers who have bad luck each season comes down to the fact that neither driver is inflicting their bad luck upon themselves. A great deal of bad luck in racing is on the fault of the driver being over aggressive with their car and taking risky chances. But these two haven’t been able to control anything that’s happened to them this year.
Take for example Gordon, who has a laundry list of things he can’t control causing him to finish awfully. At Daytona and Kansas, he suffered engine failure, a rarity for a team like Hendrick Motorsports. At Martinsville, he was wrecked while leading with two laps left and was also wrecked at Talladega. At Bristol, he was running in the top-5 when teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. rubbed into the side of Gordon, causing his tire to go flat. At Fontana, he was running top-5 when his gasman failed to pull the gas can out of the car, resulting in a pit road penalty. At Darlington, he popped three tires within ten laps. And at Dover, he was leading when he had to come to pit road with a loose wheel.
For Allmendinger, it doesn’t get much better. A freak pit road accident broke his radiator at Daytona. Las Vegas saw him have fuel pressure issues and he had a broken suspension all race at Bristol. At Kansas, his throttle failed and he broke a wheel hub at Charlotte. And just this past weekend at Pocono, he was involved in two wrecks, the second of which knocked the wind out of him.
It just isn’t normal to see this amount of extreme bad luck for not one, but two guys who both had high expectations coming into 2012. Gordon was coming off his best season in years, winning three times in 2011 and being competitive in nearly every race. And Allmendinger finally landed the ride he’d been hoping to get for years, signing with Penske Racing, a proven winning team, over the winter. Gordon was expected to make the Chase with ease and Allmendinger was expected to challenge for a spot and score his first win.
Now, these guys are almost in salvage mode for the season. Perhaps not Gordon, who has at least had a car capable of winning in almost every race, so a Chase spot is still possible if he scores a couple of wins over the summer months. But for Allmendinger, he may need to just focus on consistency, which has been a staple of his driving style ever since he broke into the sport.
Fortunately for these two, we all know luck can change on a dime. I mean, that dark cloud can’t hang over your head forever, right?….