Daytona II: Jeff Gordon preview

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - After a dominating win at Infineon Raceway last Sunday, Jeff Gordon enters the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway hoping for another victory - and a first for him. Although he has seven victories in 46 career ...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - After a dominating win at Infineon Raceway last Sunday, Jeff Gordon enters the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway hoping for another victory - and a first for him.

Although he has seven victories in 46 career restrictor-plate races, Gordon has never won more than one 'plate' race in a single season. After winning earlier this year at Talladega, a victory this Saturday night would give Gordon his first multiple-win season on restrictor-plate tracks. It would also mark the 20th time he has scored back-to-back wins in NASCAR's premier division, something he has already accomplished this year by winning at Talladega and California.

"Our win at Talladega has given this DuPont team a lot of confidence heading into this weekend," Gordon said. "The DEI (Dale Earnhardt, Inc.) cars should be strong as usual. I still think they're the cars to beat, but we're making gains in our plate program and hopefully we'll be challenging for the win at the end of the race."

Gordon's 67th career win last Sunday moved him up two positions to fourth in the points standings. He now trails his teammate and points leader Jimmie Johnson by 252 with only 10 races remaining in NASCAR's "regular" season. After the 26th race at Richmond, the top-10 drivers and those within 400 points will determine the drivers who will participate in the "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Championship."

If recent performances are any indication, cars built out of the same shop may be leading the way during the final 10 races. Gordon and Johnson, whose Chevrolets are maintained under the same roof at Hendrick Motorsports, have combined to lead 659 laps of a possible 1,310 laps (50.3 percent) over the last five races on tracks that vary in size and shape.

"Jimmie and the 48 team are strong right now, and I expect them to be strong at the end of the season," Gordon said. "When the points are reset for the 27th race, everyone will be about equal which will make it exciting for the fans - and probably stressful for the teams involved. I don't know if you could really pick a favorite at that point.

"But it's still too early to think about those final 10 races. We're not guaranteed a spot, yet, so we must keep our focus on the next race and getting some consistency going our way.

"Last week's win was great, but we have to put that behind us and focus on Daytona."

And focus on another first.

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson