Martinsville Speedway - Jeff Gordon spotlight

Gordon Has Shot To Make Up Ground In SUBWAY 500 MARTINSVILLE, VA (October 15, 2006) -- Martinsville Speedway's tight half-mile oval always produces excitement, but Sunday's SUBWAY 500 has the makings of a...

Gordon Has Shot To Make Up Ground In SUBWAY 500

MARTINSVILLE, VA (October 15, 2006) -- Martinsville Speedway's tight half-mile oval always produces excitement, but Sunday's SUBWAY 500 has the makings of a Chase-for-the-NEXTEL-Cup thriller.

With the top five separated by just over 100 points coming into Sunday's sixth stop in the Chase, and just 216 points separating leader Jeff Burton and 10-th-place Jeff Gordon, the SUBWAY 500 could turn the chase upside down.

Even though he's 10th in the points, Gordon has to be the favorite in the SUBWAY 500. He leads all active drivers at Martinsville with seven wins and he swept both Martinsville Cup races in 2005. He also swept both races here in 2003.

Over the past seven races at Martinsville Speedway, Gordon's average finish is an amazing third.

In addition to seven wins in 27 Martinsville starts, Gordon has five Bud Poles, 15 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes and has led 2,041 laps. Incredibly, he's never had a DNF at Martinsville.

So while he's saddled with a 210 point deficit to Burton coming into Martinsville, it's the one place in the Chase he could take a huge bite out of that lead.

Not surprisingly, Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmy Johnson has almost mirrored Gordon at Martinsville over the past seven races. He has one win -- in the 2004 SUBWAY 500 -- and has an average finish of 4.2 over those seven events.

Like Gordon, Johnson is toward the bottom of the Chase headed into Martinsville, three spots ahead of his teammate in seventh. But he's just 146 points behind Burton.

"We have a lot of confidence coming into this race," said Johnson. "I think it's a great race for myself and Jeff, but also not a great race for some of the other guys like Matt Kenseth, who'll we'll be battling with. Hopefully, we'll hit the marks and get some good points there.

Kenseth is second in the points headed into the SUBWAY 500, 45 points behind Burton, while Kevin Harvick is third, 89 in arrears. Rounding out the top five are Mark Martin, 102 points behind the leader and Dale Earnhardt Jr., fifth, 106 points back.

Kenseth has not fared well at Martinsville. While Gordon's average finish over the past seven races has been third and Johnson's has been 4.2, Kenseth's has been 15.1 and his career average finish at Martinsville is just a tad over 17.

Four Chase drivers posted top-10 finishes in the spring Cup race at Martinsville. Gordon was second, Earnhardt fourth, Kyle Busch fifth and Harvick seventh.

On the other hand, four Chase drivers posted finishes of 24th or worse in the spring. Kenseth was 24th, Burton was 33, Kahne was 35th and Hamlin 37th.

Tickets remain for both the SUBWAY 500 on Sunday, October 22, and the Kroger 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, on Saturday, October 21, and can be purchased by calling 1.877.RACE.TIX. SUBWAY 500 tickets may also be purchased online at www.racetickets.com. For race information, please visit www.martinsvillespeedway.com.

Ticket prices for the SUBWAY 500 range from $42 to $77. Tickets for the Kroger 200 are $35 in advance and $40 the day of the event. Kroger 200 tickets for children ages 6 to 12 are $5.

-credit: Martinsville Speedway

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Series NASCAR-CUP