At Talladega for Jeff Gordon, pack mentality returns

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Jeff Gordon/PPRP

TALLADEGA, Ala. (May 1, 2012) - With temperatures expected to approach 90 degrees at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend, overheating may be an issue. But in a perfect world, Jeff Gordon wants the engine in his No. 24 DuPont "20 Years" Chevrolet to "blow up."

After he takes the checkered flag.

With new rules that affect engine temperature cooling in place at the restrictor-plate tracks at Daytona and Talladega, the amount of time one car can push another has decreased. While that time has decreased, two-car tandems will still make an appearance in Sunday's Aaron's 499 according to Gordon.

"We had pretty nice conditions at Daytona when we ran that race," said Gordon, who finished 40th in the season-opening event after engine issues sidelined him on lap 81. "For us, we didn't have an overheating problem. We found a hole in a water hose and we're not sure exactly how it got there. It pretty much drained the water and that's why we blew up. So our goal is to make sure that doesn't happen again.

Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

"(This weekend) you're going to have to really watch those gauges and pay attention to them and have some more 'gap' between you and the other cars to let that radiator breathe. But you go faster 'connected,' so we'll be pushing toward the end of the race.

"At the end of that race, your ultimate goal is to push that other guy as long as you possibly can and cross (the finish line) blowing up the engine."

In 38 starts at the 2.66-mile track, Gordon has six wins (most among active drivers), two poles, 14 top-fives and 18 top-10's. The four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has led 832 laps - 123 more than the nearest active competitor.

"In practice, you'll see cars 'hooked' together to see how long they can run," said Gordon, the all-time leader in restrictor-plate victories with 12. "So, in the closing laps of the race as wide as the race track is, I think that is what you'll see. That's what we'll work on in practice and see just how it's going to work out.

"So it's going to make the dynamics of the race - the first half to three quarters - very interesting. And the finish will be exciting, too.

"But you've got to survive to get there first."

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags chevrolet, featured, gordon, hendrick