Jeff Gordon out front at Daytona testing

Jeff Gordon has been lighting up Daytona International Speedway. Gordon paced both sessions of Nextel Cup series testing at Daytona International Speedway on Monday, posting a lap of 185.265 mph in the morning session and a lap of 185.448 mph in the afternoon test. He also had the fastest time Tuesday morning with a lap of 184.786 mph.

Jeff Gordon.
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Gordon has affectionately joked that in 2005 the 'drive for five' is alive on the No. 24 Hendrick Chevy team. Gordon, the four-time series champ, would have won the trophy under the old point system last season, and is anxious to garner his fifth title this season.

"We were missing something with that (last year)," said Gordon. "Now it's 'drive for five in '05' and maybe this will be the year that we'll get it. How do you really pick who your challengers are? One thing I've always done and that our team always does is that we only focus on our own team and our own cars and our own program and try to do the best we can at each and every race and that we're our ultimate competitor. As long as we can do that, I think we've got a shot at it no matter who else is running well."

Pre-season testing is a crucial element of setting up for the new season. Gordon and Team 24 want to start the year with a bang and position themselves the best they can before the 10 race shoot off period begins after Richmond. Gordon will have the likes of Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and reigning champ Kurt Busch on his heels as he chases a fifth Cup.

Dupont Chevrolet crew at work.
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"Obviously, as good as Jimmie Johnson as been, I'd have to put him at the top of the list," said Gordon of his main competitors. "I think the Roush cars have been so good the last couple of years that you've got to think that one of those guys will be strong. Junior keeps getting closer and closer as well.

"I hate to even mention names because I think there will be a handful of names that I don't mention. Everybody picks up their program during the off- season. Things change and you just never know who is going to be competitive and who isn't."

Gordon lost the 2004 championship by just 16 points, finishing third overall. He scored six poles, five wins and 16 top five finishes.

"At Homestead I feel like we were right there - so close - and for most of the race we were leading the points," Gordon said. "So it was a little bit disappointing to see it finish the way it did."