GORDON: THE 'LADY' STILL HAS BITE DARLINGTON, S.C. (May 4, 2010) - Faster, smoother Darlington Raceway is not as treacherous as it used to be, but seven-time track winner Jeff Gordon knows "The Lady in Black" can still bite. Gordon has fared...
GORDON: THE 'LADY' STILL HAS BITE
DARLINGTON, S.C. (May 4, 2010) - Faster, smoother Darlington Raceway is not as treacherous as it used to be, but seven-time track winner Jeff Gordon knows
"The Lady in Black" can still bite.
Gordon has fared well at "The Track Too Tough to Tame" during his 18-year career. Along with seven victories, he has collected three poles, 17 top-fives and 20 top-10's in 29 starts at the 1.366-mile track.
"This track used to be so tough because the surface was so abrasive," said Gordon, who will drive a specially painted No. 24 DuPont/ National Guard Chevrolet this weekend. "And you had to use a lot of finesse as a driver while dealing with the two very different ends of the track.
"Now it's smoother and it has more grip, but it's still pretty treacherous because you run right up next to the wall. It's still an awesome race track that is much faster now.
"And it can still bite you."
Gordon has led 24 races here for a total of 1,610 laps. And leading is where he would prefer to be during Saturday night's Showtime Southern 500.
"Track position is extremely important here because the track is so fast and it's so hard to pass," said the five-time Southern 500 winner. "And you're never going to have a perfect car or perfect setup.
"Both ends of the race track are totally different. That means you have to compromise as a driver and as a team with the setup. As a driver, you have to work around not having a perfect handling car and try to find the fastest way through the corners."
The focus of the No. 24 team is being in contention at the end of race, and that means Gordon cannot pay too much attention to the competition.
"The track is starting to wear out a little bit, and you are constantly trying to get to the edge of the grip level," said Gordon. "There's just a small margin for error because you're running so fast so close to the wall.
"If you focus too much on trying to out run the competition, then you'll make a mistake. A lot of times if you just run a nice race and keep yourself out of trouble, you will end up towards the top."
But will "24" hold the top spot of the leaderboard following Saturday night's event?