Michigan: Jeff Gordon preview

AFTER 14 RACES, GORDON OFF TO HIS BEST START EVER BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 12, 2007) - Jeff Gordon has amassed four wins, five poles, 10 top-fives and 12 top-10's in the first 14 races of this season - better statistics through 14 races than any of...

AFTER 14 RACES, GORDON OFF TO HIS BEST START EVER

BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 12, 2007) - Jeff Gordon has amassed four wins, five poles, 10 top-fives and 12 top-10's in the first 14 races of this season - better statistics through 14 races than any of his previous 14 seasons, including his 1998 campaign where he racked up 13 wins. While he leads the point standings by 242 heading into this Sunday's Citizens Bank 400 at Michigan International Speedway, Gordon knows a 1998-type performance through the final stretch would help him achieve his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championship.

Gordon, who has four NASCAR Winston Cup championships to his credit, would like nothing more than to add a NEXTEL Cup to his resume. "I had reservations about the 'Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup' when it was first introduced," Gordon said. "But it has added a level of excitement for the fans during the final 10 races, and added a level of intensity for the teams and drivers, as well. I believe it is much tougher to win a championship under this format.

"We've had a great start to the year, but we want to carry it up to and through the Chase.

"We've been competitive almost every race. When we weren't, we either worked really hard on the car throughout the race and made it better, or my crew chief Steve Letarte made the right call in the pits to give us a shot at the win or a good finish.

"I think our start this year can be traced back to the 'Chase' last year. We finished sixth in the final standings, but that doesn't begin to tell the whole story. I felt we were very competitive during the entire stretch but a fuel pump failure at Kansas, a blown engine at Charlotte and an accident at Talladega took us out of contention.

"Those must be limited if you're going to have a shot at the championship."

While it will be tough to duplicate, Gordon and the No. 24 DuPont team hope to come close to the consistency they used during the final half of the 1998 season to capture their third championship. During the final 20 races that year, Gordon closed the season with 10 wins and 19 top-fives. His worst finish during that stretch? Seventh. And that streak began at the first race in Michigan, site of this weekend's race. In 28 career starts here, Gordon has two wins, four poles, 15 top-fives and 19 top-10's.

"Michigan is one of my favorite tracks - it's a driver's track," Gordon said. "If your car is not working the way you'd like it to, you can try different lines. You can drive the bottom, middle or top. You can try going into the corner high or you can try entering the corner low. "I think that's the reason most drivers like it. I know it's my favorite."

-credit: hm

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon