Young men see life in terms of high peaks and deep valleys. Maturity tends to level the graph, with the peaks and valleys made more plain by experience. The highs aren't as intoxicating, but neither are the depths as devastating.
Since he turned 30, Jeff Gordon seems to have lingered somewhere between youth and maturity, but the maturity comes forward when Gordon looks back at 2005, the worst season since his 1993 rookie year, at least by his standards.
With a handful of races left in the season, Gordon stood 15th in points, despite winning four times, bringing his career total to 73. More important, at least under current rules and formats, Gordon failed to make NASCAR's championship playoff, the system that likely cost him a chance at his fifth NASCAR title in 2004.