LOUDON, N.H. - It is like déjà vu all over again for the No. 24 Drive To End Hunger team.
Two months ago, Jeff Gordon arrived at New Hampshire Motor Speedway 191 points out of the lead - the largest deficit he has faced this campaign. But six top-six finishes in the next eight races allowed him to cut 54 points off that margin, so why panic ahead of Sunday's Sylvania 300 when the deficit Gordon now faces is "only" 47?
"It was a disappointing result (in Chicago), but we had a fast race car," said Gordon, who finished 35th in that event after a 'stuck' throttle resulted in contact with the turn 1 wall. "We had a great run from 19th to inside the top five, and I would have liked to have seen if we had anything for them at the end.
"But we'll put that event behind us and focus on trying to win Loudon this weekend. There is still a long way to go."
Gordon's crew chief also believes the 2012 version of the "Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup" is in its infancy.
"It's way too early to panic," said Alan Gustafson. "We still have nine races to go, so we won't change our strategy.
"The plan is to continue to fight and 'stay the course.'"
In 35 starts at the 1.058-mile track, Gordon has three wins (1995, 1997 and 1998) and three poles, while his 15 top-fives and 20 top-10's are tops at "The Granite State" track. Another first for the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion is running first. Gordon's 1,309 laps out front here leads all drivers.
"I really enjoy racing here," said Gordon, who trails Darrell Waltrip (23,130) by 108 for sixth in career laps led. "It's not an easy place to get around, though, with the long straightaways, flat corners and hard braking.
"Recently, we have led laps, run well and been in position to win. We just need to put ourselves in that position again. "And capitalize on it."
Source: End Hunger team