Loudon II: Jeff Gordon preview

AT NEW HAMPSHIRE: In 31 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Gordon has posted three wins, 14 top-five finishes and 17 top-10s. He also has earned three pole positions and led 1,205 laps. Gordon's average start at the...

AT NEW HAMPSHIRE: In 31 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Gordon has posted three wins, 14 top-five finishes and 17 top-10s. He also has earned three pole positions and led 1,205 laps. Gordon's average start at the 1.058-mile track is 10.2, and his average finish is 11.2.

DRIVER STANDINGS: Gordon and the No. 24 Chevrolet team enter the first race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup eighth in the standings -- 60 points behind leader Denny Hamlin -- going into Sunday's race at New Hampshire. This season, Gordon has scored 10 top-five finishes, 13 top-10s and has led 813 laps.

NO. 24 PIT CREW: Gordon's crew won the Tissot Pit Road Precision Award in the June Cup race at New Hampshire. Gordon's No. 24 pit crew spent the least amount of time on pit road -- 172.661 seconds -- during the 301-lap event at New Hampshire. The quick work helped Gordon attain a fourth-place finish -- his eighth top-five finish of the season.

NEW HAMPSHIRE WINNER: Gordon is a three-time Sprint Cup race winner at New Hampshire. He earned his and Hendrick Motorsports' first victory at the short track on July 9, 1995, after starting 21st and leading 126 laps. Gordon's second win at the 1.058-mile track came on Sept. 14, 1997. He led 137 laps en route to Victory Lane. Gordon's most recent victory at New Hampshire was on Aug. 30, 1998. He started from the pole position and led 68 laps before crossing the finish line first.

NEW HAMPSHIRE CHASSIS: Crew chief Steve Letarte has chosen Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 24-616 for Sunday's race at New Hampshire. This is a new chassis that has not been raced, but the No. 24 team tested it at The Milwaukee (Wis.) Mile earlier this month.

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JEFF GORDON, DRIVER, NO. 24 DUPONT/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET (ON RECOGNIZING THE NATIONAL GUARD'S FACEBOOK PAGE ON THE NO. 24 CHEVROLET AT NEW HAMPSHIRE.): "It's great having the National Guard on the hood again, and this weekend the No. 24 Chevy is recognizing its Facebook page. They held a contest recently on the National Guard Facebook page and the winner won all-access passes to this weekend's race as well as a meet-and-greet with me. I look forward to meeting the winner, and hope they have a great time in New Hampshire. It's pretty cool what the National Guard is doing on its Facebook page, and I encourage others to become a fan and check out some of the other special contests they have going on."

STEVE LETARTE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 24 DUPONT/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET (ON BUILDING MOMENTUM AT NEW HAMPSHIRE.): "The Chase is simple. Everybody talks about momentum. You have to have 10-week's worth. Loudon is important because it's race (number) one. There are no more freebies, there's no more practice. That's what we've done all year long is try to make the Chase. And Friday morning when you unload in Loudon, you have points. If you don't run well there, forget momentum. You're now further behind than you were when you went in. And you only have nine more weeks to make it up, and that's going to be hard to do. There are 12 teams that are going to be in the Chase. I think of the 12, there are probably 10 legitimate championship contenders. And you've seen this season already has been very, very streaky. The No. 48 car won five races, the No. 11 car won six races. The No. 29 car has been really the only guy that has lead and won races kind of spread through the year. Everybody else has been very streaky. I think someone will get streaky. I think you are going to have to be really on top of your game. There's no polite way to say this, but it's kind of like put up or shut up time when you unload at Loudon. You can say you are working on it. But Sunday afternoon at Loudon, somebody will score more points than somebody else and that guy will have an advantage going to Dover (Del.)."

LETARTE (ON THE KEY TO LOUDON.): "Loudon is a very scary race because it's only 300 laps, and if you lose track position your race is over. It doesn't matter if you got lost at Lap 50 or Lap 150. It's a very, very hard track to pass. The double-file restarts will be crazy. The pit strategy is very crazy. The tires there don't mean a whole lot, so it's hard to kind of get outside the normal on pit strategy. It's one of those tracks that we've had a lot of success there. We thought we won one there last years, and the No. 20 car kind of got it with the rain. We've had success there but it's also one of those that if you don't run well, man, it's a hard one to catch up on.

"I think that's the key in the Chase. You need to make sure whatever happens at Loudon, you can't let it affect you. The Chase is real simple. About race four, there will be four or five teams that no longer have a shot at it. Then about race seven, they'll be about three or four teams that really have a shot at it. And then going into Homestead, there's only going to be two teams. You can maybe mathematically have a shot, but realistically you will have to be one of the top two teams or you don't have a shot at it."

LETARTE (ON MAINTAINING YOUR EXPECTATIONS DURING THE CHASE.): "You have to take every weekend as it comes. You have to be very realistic with your expectations. You can't be riding around 15th at Loudon at Lap 250 and say, 'Man we can still get this win.' You need to start realizing that you are points racing, and they score more points for 14th than they do 16th, and you need to get that next position. I also will say that with it being a 10-race schedule unlike a 36-race schedule, you can't be afraid to wreck. You can't be riding around with mittens on trying to think 'Well we'll get them next week.' Well, next week is too late. In 10 weeks, you can't give up a week. You have to go, and I think that's the difference. That's what this team has struggled with in the Chase. Over 36 weeks, Jeff has a conservative approach to races, conservative approach to ill-handling race cars, and just overall we don't have a lot of extreme mistakes. We don't wreck a lot of race cars, we don't break a lot of engines. And while that's good and it's good for a good batting average, you're going to have to have more than a good batting average to win a championship in 10 races."

LETARTE (ON WHETHER IT REALLY MATTERS HAVING BONUS POINTS GOING INTO THE FIRST CHASE RACE.): "You don't want to spot anybody anything. We put tremendous effort into qualifying that some people say doesn't matter. We're very competitive people. It will not affect how we race in the championship, but does it affect the outcome? We won't know until Homestead (Miami). I am a true believer though that if those 60 points are the difference between winning and losing the championship, unless you have an average finish of fourth or fifth and you have about four or five wins, it wasn't those 60 points. You just didn't run well enough in the 10 races you had the chance to do it in."

-source: hendrick motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Denny Hamlin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports