LEADING AT CALIFORNIA COULD LEAD TO ANOTHER TOP-FIVE FOR GORDON FONTANA, Calif. (August 26, 2008) - Leading a lap - and the five bonus points awarded for doing so - during this Sunday's Pepsi 500 would certainly aid Jeff Gordon's quest to secure...
LEADING AT CALIFORNIA COULD LEAD TO ANOTHER TOP-FIVE FOR GORDON
FONTANA, Calif. (August 26, 2008) - Leading a lap - and the five bonus points awarded for doing so - during this Sunday's Pepsi 500 would certainly aid Jeff Gordon's quest to secure a spot in the 2008 edition of the "Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup." If history is any indication, it could also lead to a strong finish for Team DuPont at Auto Club Speedway.
In 16 career starts at the two-mile track, Gordon has three wins, two poles, eight top-fives and eight top-10's. He has led nine events for a total of 525 laps - more than any other driver.
In the nine events when he has led at least one lap, Gordon has eight top-fives with an average finish of 3.55. In seven events when he has failed to lead lap? An average finish of 21.14 and no top-10 finishes.
Earlier this year at the California track, Gordon led 68 laps en route to a third-place finish in the rain-delayed event - a run that the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion believes can be "bettered."
"We feel really good about this weekend's event," said Gordon, who will drive a specially painted No. 24 DuPont/Pepsi Chevrolet during the 250-lap race. "We were strong here in February, and I think our program is better now.
"Track position on these big tracks plays an important role during the event. We started second in February because qualifying was canceled, and that starting position certainly helped.
"Our first goal of the weekend is a strong qualifying effort on Friday."
With only two races remaining before the 12-driver "Chase" field is set, Gordon sits ninth in the standings - 108 points ahead of 13th place. No matter the results of the other competitors, finishes of eighth or better at California and Richmond mean Team DuPont is racing for a fifth championship.
"The level of intensity has certainly risen the past few weeks, and there's definitely more pressure," said Gordon. "We have to be sure we're on top of our game. We can't make mistakes and we have to be sure we're doing everything right.
"We're racing the guys in 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th. If they take a big risk, it may push us into a corner to take a risk.
"But that's not our focus. Our focus is - number one - to make our car go fast. Secondly, we must run our race and not worry about the other competitors.
"We shouldn't have to base our decisions on what other teams are doing."