Las Vegas: Jeff Gordon preview

FOR GORDON, VEGAS DEFINED BY BEST OF FIVE AND MOST TOP FIVES LAS VEGAS, Nev. (March 7, 2006) -- Jeff Gordon will start his trip to Las Vegas this weekend by competing in his charity poker tournament at Caesars Palace, then will switch gears for...

FOR GORDON, VEGAS DEFINED BY BEST OF FIVE AND MOST TOP FIVES

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (March 7, 2006) -- Jeff Gordon will start his trip to Las Vegas this weekend by competing in his charity poker tournament at Caesars Palace, then will switch gears for this Sunday's race where he will work toward a second victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and his 200th top-five finish in 440 career starts. On Wednesday, the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion will host the Jeff Gordon Foundation Poker Classic at Caesars Palace.

The No-Limit Hold Em Poker event will feature poker pros and celebrities competing against poker enthusiasts, with the proceeds benefitting the charities the Foundation supports. In this tournament, a player looks to have the best five cards each hand, or at least make their opponents believe they have the best five. And at the end of a series of head- to-head match ups where the odds of winning a hand are approximately 50 percent - winner takes all. "Poker has really taken off the past couple of years, and I'm glad we're able to take advantage of its popularity to raise money for those in need," Gordon said.

"While it's for a good cause, I'm sure you'll see our competitive side come out when the cards are dealt. "There are some similarities between poker and racing. In both, you must be patient but attack at the right times. "And a little bit of luck never hurts either."

On Sunday, Gordon will compete in the UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 in a specially- painted No. 24 DuPont/Nicorette Chevrolet. In eight races at 1.5-mile track, he has one win (2001) and three top-five finishes Last year, Gordon finished fourth here. It would take seven months before he posted his next top five at an intermediate track, a second-place finish at Atlanta. In the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Gordon led 39 laps and finished ninth.

In the first intermediate track race of 2006, Gordon was encouraged by Team DuPont's 13th-place finish at California Speedway on February 26. "These types of tracks were a weakness for us last year, and we addressed that during the final 10 races of 2005 and during the off-season," Gordon said. "We started to see improvement with good runs at Atlanta and Homestead.

"One of the things we fought last year was the ability to make the car better during the race. No matter what adjustment we made, it didn't seem to help the handling.

"(Crew chief) Steve Letarte has made changes to the bodies on the car, and it's made a difference. At California, we continued to improve with each adjustment. Steve made a gutsy call for two tires late in the race that put us in position for a top five, but the cautions hurt us in the end.

"There's still room for improvement. We want to get back to where we're leading laps, running in the top five and battling for victories on a consistent basis." And with a fifth championship in the balance, Gordon hopes that the 2006 season will also be defined by five where winner takes all.

-pprp

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon