AVONDALE, Ariz. — Jeff Gordon keeps playing with a larger pile of house money.

He began his last NASCAR season with no worries, knowing that he is a first-ballot NASCAR Hall of Famer even if he stunk it up in 2015.

He hasn’t. Anything but. He will finish the season with a good shot at his fifth Cup title.

As the rains came down Sunday in the desert at Phoenix International Raceway, forcing a prolonged rain delay for the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500, Gordon was the only driver who had no worries playing the Chase waiting game.

Locked into this coming weekend’s title race in Homestead-Miami thanks to his victory at Martinsville two weekends ago, Gordon is ready to go.

“Right now we are all about team building and momentum and confidence,” he said. “Even though there’s very little that we learn here this weekend — the tires are completely different, the track is completely different, the surface is completely different — it’s still an important race.

“This track really throughout my whole career has been one that I’ve been consistent at. I’ve never been great here until that last race before they repaved it. It’s a very fun, exciting, challenging racetrack. We are working really hard to try to get another win.”

Gordon has done well here, with two wins and 23 top-10s in 33 starts.

Another “W” would be special, as Gordon closes out his long run. Officials had renamed the track Jeff Gordon Raceway in his honor, which is nice but not quite as elaborate as the gift Gordon received in Texas, where track president Eddie Gossage went big as they always do in Texas.

Two Shetland ponies.

“I think he hates me,” Gordon said. “No, I am joking. Ingrid [Gordon’s wife] and the kids got there the next day and we immediately went out to the stables where they were at and visited with them. And of course, immediately my daughter fell in love.

“They were the cutest things and we had a lot of fun with them. Ever since then and right after they were given to us, we were trying to figure out how to get them to North Carolina, where to put them, who is going to take care of them, how often we were going to visit with them. That’s where we are at right now.”

Gordon has more pressing priorities at the moment: a fifth Cup title.

His team has been forced to scramble to accommodate a potential championship into the weekend list of celebratory activities at Homestead, already jammed packed with goodbye goodies.

“I don’t know if it’s going to hit me prior to the race or if it’s going to hit me after the race, but it’s going to hit me,” Gordon said. “It’s definitely going to hit me. We’ve just had so much still left to accomplish and business at hand that it has not hit me yet.

“We’ve just been in planning mode for trying to be in the Chase and planning mode for trying to make it to Homestead as a team. Been in planning mode for entertaining friends and family at Homestead. This is long before we were ever in the Chase.

“The cool thing is we are going there to celebrate regardless of that moment and that day and sharing that with the people that have supported me over the years and are closest to me. When Martinsville happened, it just made that much more exciting and, of course, the people who hadn’t RSVP’d all of a sudden started to RSVP. It did create a little more work for luckily not me so much but our team that is handling all that.”

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