GORDON COULD REACH ANOTHER MILESTONE AT MARTINSVILLE MARTINSVILLE, Va. (October 14, 2008) - Another milestone - 20,000 career laps led - is well within reach for Jeff Gordon this Sunday in the TUMS QuikPak 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Gordon,...
GORDON COULD REACH ANOTHER MILESTONE AT MARTINSVILLE
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (October 14, 2008) - Another milestone - 20,000 career laps led - is well within reach for Jeff Gordon this Sunday in the TUMS QuikPak 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
Gordon, who is currently eighth all-time with 19,823 laps led, can surpass Rusty Wallace for seventh on that list if he leads 150 laps this Sunday - something Gordon has accomplished on nine occasions here. Tack on another 27 and Gordon reaches 20,000.
While Gordon is well shy of Richard Petty's total of 52,194, the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion holds a commanding lead over the nearest "active" competitor in that category - future teammate Mark Martin - who ranks 11th with 11,560. To put that in perspective, Martin would need to lead every lap from now through the 2009 August race in Bristol to move past Gordon's total.
"Everything I do from this point forward is just icing on the cake," said Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet. "When I started racing in NASCAR, I never would have imagined winning four championships and 81 races.
"I've accomplished so much more than I ever thought I would in this sport."
In 31 starts at the 0.526-mile track, Gordon has seven wins, seven poles, 19 top- fives, 25 top-10's and only three finishes worse than 12th. His average starting position is 6.6 and his average finish is 7.0.
"A good qualifying effort on Friday certainly helps your chances during the race - especially if you win the pole," said Gordon, who is one pole position shy of Darrell Waltrip's record of eight at the Virginia track. "Because pit road is so tight here, winning the pole and choosing pit stall number 1 can be a huge advantage.
"That stall doesn't speed up the stops, but it does allow you to drive straight off the end of pit road and not go around anybody. If you can gain one or two spots on pit road, that's one or two spots you don't have to gain on the race track."
With five races remaining in the 2008 season, Gordon is eighth in the standings and 245 points out of the lead held by Jimmie Johnson. Gordon views this race as a great chance to notch his first win of the year - and gain points on his teammate.
"I wouldn't say this is our only remaining opportunity to win this year, but it may be our best," said Gordon, who has four wins, nine top-fives and 11 top-10's in his last 11 races here. "We ran well at Kansas and Charlotte, so I'm looking forward to the remaining mile-and-a-half races to see if we can make more gains in that program.
"And we've been strong here recently, so I believe this is a race we can win and make gains in the standings."