ALL-STAR "TEST" COULD PROVIDE TEAM DUPONT LONG-TERM GAINS CONCORD, N.C. (May 15, 2007) - For Team DuPont, this Saturday night's NEXTEL All-Star Challenge at Lowe's Motor Speedway is a "test" session - a test they hope generates $1 million in ...
ALL-STAR "TEST" COULD PROVIDE TEAM DUPONT LONG-TERM GAINS
CONCORD, N.C. (May 15, 2007) - For Team DuPont, this Saturday night's NEXTEL All-Star Challenge at Lowe's Motor Speedway is a "test" session - a test they hope generates $1 million in immediate returns. And one they hope provides much larger returns in the future. Jeff Gordon has opened up a 231-point gap in the NASCAR NEXTEL point standings with three wins in the last four races and nine top-fives in 11 races this season, ensuring the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion the points lead until June. While points are not on the line during this weekend's event, it could have "points" implications for Team DuPont.
"We're using a brand new chassis this weekend, and we're hoping to try some new things with it, " said Steve Letarte, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet. "Don't get me wrong, we're going to do everything we can do to win the Challenge, but we're also hoping to learn so that we can apply it to the 600' the following weekend.
"Our mile-and-half program is good, but I also think you constantly need to try new ideas to keep up with and hopefully move ahead of the competition."
During this All-Star event that is split up into four segments of 20 laps each, the No. 24 car will carry the familiar the "fire and flames" design but with the primary colors reversed. DuPont Performance Alliance will also be showcased on the Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS.
"This is an exciting race for the fans but an exciting race for the teams and drivers, as well," said Gordon. "It's run under the lights with a lot of different paint schemes. There's just a different feel about this race.
"You have to take chances to win this race, but you also have to be smart about when and where you take those chances."
In a season that Gordon has tied and surpassed Dale Earnhardt's career win total, he has an opportunity this weekend to break a record he currently holds with "The Intimidator:" most wins in this prestigious event. Earnhardt collected wins 1987, 1990 and 1993, while Gordon's wins occurred in 1995, 1997 and 2001 - coincidentally all championship seasons for the Hendrick Motorsports driver.
"In 1995, we won every segment, but it still was crazy during the final one," said Gordon. "I remember Darrell Waltrip restarted on the outside of me and Dale was right behind me.
"Dale made a great move and took us three-wide down the back straightaway. I lifted heading into the corner because I didn't think there was any way all three of us were going to make it through the corner. "Sure enough, those two got together and crashed, and I was able to take the win.
"I'm sure it'll be crazy again this Saturday night during the last segment, but 20 laps is a lot of laps. "And so much can happen in 20 laps at Lowe's Motor Speedway."