DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Like most race drivers, Jeff Gordon likes to run up front. In the first seven races of the 1995 NASCAR Winston Cup season, Gordon has been running up front quite often.

Because of that, Gordon, driver of the DuPont Chevrolet, leads the True Value Hard Charger Award standings on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit.

Through the first seven races, he has accumulated 9,194 points to lead defending NASCAR Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt, who has 6,446. Sterling Marlin is third with 4,101.

True Value Hard Charger points are awarded in each NASCAR Winston Cup event, on a descending scale, to the top five drivers on each lap of the race. The driver who accumulates the most points in each race receives $2,500, with $1,500 going to the driver with the second-highest total and $1,000 to the driver with the third-highest.

Gordon leads toward a bonus award of $30,000 that will be presented at the NASCAR Winston Cup awards banquet in New York City in December to the 1995 True Value Hard Charger Award winner, the driver who accumulates the most points during the season. The runner-up will receive $12,500, with $7,500 going to the third-place driver.

"If you run as hard as you can in every race, good things will happen for you," said Gordon, winner of three of the first seven races this season. "My crew gives me an awesome car every race, and it's my job to get it up front. Winning the True Value Hard Charger Award in a race is a nice bonus for getting there.

"To win the award for the whole season would really be special," he said. "It would be a real indication that our team ran up front the most, and would be something our whole team would be proud of."

In addition to its support of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, True Value Hardware also sponsors the True Value Gold Wrench Award on the NASCAR Winston Racing Series, recognizing the best mechanics in NASCAR weekly racing.

The True Value Gold Wrench Award recognizes a winner in every racing division at all 98 tracks in the NASCAR Winston Racing Series. In addition, eight regional champions are crowned, winning $1,500 each, and a national Gold Wrench Award winner receives $5,000. The awards are voted on by the membership of NASCAR.