Jeff Gordon says he is not getting too excited about his renewed hope of making this year's NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase, following his first win of the season last week at Pocono.
The four-time Cup champion currently holds one of the wildcard entries to the season's play-off, available for two drivers ranked between 11th and 20th in the points with the most victories.
Gordon's misfortunes during the first half of the season left him far from the possibility of being eligible for this year's Chase but his recent form and last week's unexpected win in a rain-shortened event have suddenly made him as a favourite to land a place in the championship battle.
There are potentially another three drivers currently eligible for a wildcard entry following Gordon closely in the points standings. Despite his current form, the Californian refuses to think his place in the Chase is safe yet as there are five more races ahead before the play-off field is set.
"I'm not thinking a whole lot about the wildcard because I just think there is far too much racing left to go," said Gordon.
"It was great to get that win, that definitely gives us a shot at it, but now we've got to come here and focus on getting the job done here and the next four weeks.
"If we do our jobs right I think we can make it in."
Gordon has the largest number of road course wins among the Cup field as he enters this weekend's event at Watkins Glen, where a victory could all but guarantee a wildcard place, alongside his Hendrick team-mate Kasey Kahne - who is currently on course for a wildcard with two 2012 victories to his name.
Five-time Cup champion and fellow Hendrick driver Jimmie Johnson believes rivals should view Gordon's #24 team as a legitimate threat for this year's title despite his place in the Chase still not being guaranteed.
"I feel the garage area knows how strong the #24 has been," Johnson said. "Without a win he wasn't in a wildcard situation, so I think Chase related the garage is [now] much more concerned about him and they should be.
"He's a great driver, great team and they are plenty capable of winning the championship. Until he had the win I don't think people paid a lot of attention to it. Momentum seemed to be against him in a lot of ways and maybe people weren't paying attention, but now they will. You cannot count that #24 out."