This has not been the year Jeff Gordon envisioned when he announced it would be his last.  After missing out on the championship finale (and a possible 5th title) last year by a hair, just about everyone figured he'd be right in the title hunt again.

He's still in the hunt, but even though he's 10th in points and second among the non-winners, there hasn't been anything about his recent performances that puts him in the elite category moving forward.

And, now, he's going to spend the rest of the year dealing with the distractions, weekly, of being feted for his career.  Last week's race at New Hampshire was the last this year that will not be the last at a track.  Even though he asked that he not be given gifts and attention each week, he knew that was an unrealistic expectation.

Heck, there's already a lot of buzz about them bringing back his iconic rainbow paint scheme for the Bristol Night Race.

The key for Gordon and his crew is to keep plugging away; trying to find answers.  With the current Chase format, all you have to do is get in, and if you can hit on something then, a run to the title is certainly possible.

No storybook ending comes without a few twists and turns to get there.