However, even though Gordon is solidly in the top 10 in the standings heading into Sunday's LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway, this has been an unexpected struggle for a team that expects to qualify and run up front every weekend.
"This is so much different because it's so many steps back and we're in a box, so it's been the biggest challenge that I've ever seen any of the teams go through and that's exactly what we anticipated it would be -- a big challenge," Gordon said. "Last year wasn't so big because we were on the shorter tracks. Now we're on the big, fast, high-speed tracks and it's a real challenge."
It's not surprising that crew chief Steve Letarte may be taking the brunt of the criticism, but Gordon said now is not the time to point fingers. Instead, he -- and the team -- is focused on finding a solution.
"We don't pay attention to outside criticism," Gordon said. "We know what we're capable of doing. We focus internally. I think Steve Letarte is one of the best crew chiefs out there and I'm confident in that, and I would say that being a crew chief these days takes a lot of different elements."
Gordon said Letarte brings many positive elements to the role.
"He knows how to motivate people, he knows how to organize them," Gordon said. "He knows how to read the information. He knows how to work with me, communicate with me, with the team. He knows when to crack the whip and when not to. He's worked with some of the best crew chiefs in the business and he gets a chance to work side by side with Chad Knaus, who I think is one of the best out there as well.
"He's got to deal with me and that's not an easy thing. Sometimes I'm not the easiest and he's got to deal with exactly what we talked about -- he's got to deal with extreme criticism from very loyal, avid fans of mine. It's a tough job and not anybody can be in that position, and I think for his age and his experience I think he does an unbelievable job. I'm confident in that and that's why that doesn't change things outside of our shop."
Earlier this season, Gordon started second and finished third at Fontana, a track similar to Michigan. But crashes at Las Vegas and Texas left many wondering what was wrong with the No. 24. Gordon admits his team is still searching for answers.
"I can just tell you from my own personal experiences that there are guys out there that are making it work, certainly making it work better than we are," Gordon said. "I've just gotten to the point where I just need to shut up and drive because other people are making it work. We are not and we're one of the best teams out there.
"I feel confident in my driving and my team and that we can get it and find it. I don't think that there's anybody else out there that's doing anything that's magic, they just found some things and gone in that direction and it's working."
Gordon said the team has been proactive in an effort to hit the right combination on intermediate tracks.
"We keep our eyes and our ears open at all times," he said. "We pay attention. We look at what we're doing. We communicate with our teammates and we do everything we can.
"We try to learn every time we come to any racetrack. It's what can we take from this racetrack that's going to apply to other racetracks or what can we take from other racetracks and apply here in Michigan and try to win. Our goal is every time we come to a racetrack we want to be competitive, we want to lead laps and we want to have an opportunity to win and hopefully pull off a win."
Despite his struggles, Gordon is solidly in contention for the Chase, which allows the team to try some different setups. However, Victory Lane remains his ultimate goal.
"With the Chase format ... we're not solidly in but it does allow us to experiment a little more than we have been able to up to this point," he said. "Before we were like, 'Hey, we would just be happy to get to 15th.' Now we need to be 10th or fifth. We've gotten some top-fives and that's gotten us up there, and now we got to get better. We've got to be competitive enough to win races."
And for his detractors, Gordon has a few words of wisdom.
"[We] know what we're doing and what direction we're going in and how hard we're working and confident that we can get where we need to be," Gordon said. "It's funny that when you're not running where you need to be how quickly people are to point those things out, but how quickly they forget about the fact that we were basically one of the best teams out there on the track last year.
"There's a reason why we were as good as we were last year and there's a reason why we'll get back there hopefully before the season is out."