EXPECT TEAM DUPONT TO ROLL DICE (AGAIN) AT POCONO LONG POND, Pa. (July 31, 2007) -- It is the same track the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series visited seven weeks ago and Jeff Gordon is looking for the same result in this Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 -- and...
EXPECT TEAM DUPONT TO ROLL DICE (AGAIN) AT POCONO
LONG POND, Pa. (July 31, 2007) -- It is the same track the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series visited seven weeks ago and Jeff Gordon is looking for the same result in this Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 -- and he is willing to gamble on it. In June, Team DuPont used pit strategy at Pocono Raceway to secure their 79th career victory. With threatening skies present during much of the rain-delayed race, Gordon stayed on the track during a lap 63 caution while many of the leaders pitted for fuel. While he led the next 16 laps, the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion relinquished the lead on lap 82 when he was forced to stop for fuel. One by one the other drivers stopped for fuel, and Gordon inherited the lead just before the halfway mark -- the point of the race where an event becomes official if it must be stopped due to inclement weather. When the rain began a few laps later, Gordon was just ahead of a hard-charging Ryan Newman as the caution waved.
"We had a good car here last time, but a little bit of luck never hurts," Gordon said. "We pitted off sequence knowing everybody else would have to stop for fuel before the halfway mark. Luckily, the rain came when it did because it was going to be tough to hold off Ryan. "That calculated risk -- or maybe you could call it a gamble -- certainly paid off."
Gordon exited the event with a 242-point lead in the standings. In the six races since, his lead has grown to 371 over second place. His advantage over 13th is 872 and, while he has not yet clinched a berth in the Chase, Gordon can finish as low as 37th in each of the next six races and still contend for a fifth championship.
"We've been consistent this year and we want that to continue, but it's good to know we have that buffer if needed," Gordon said. "That cushion also allows us to gamble and go after wins in these final six races before the Chase starts."
Following race No. 26 at Richmond, the 12 drivers participating in the Chase will have their points reset to 5,000. Each win accrued to that point will be worth an additional 10 points, and Team DuPont's four wins would give Gordon an additional 40 points heading into the final stretch. While those bonus points would keep Gordon in the lead, it would only be good enough for a tie as teammate Jimmie Johnson currently has four wins, as well.
"Any one of the 12 drivers can win the championship with the Chase format," said Gordon. "Every point is crucial during the final 10 races, so any bonus points you get before the Chase begins is a huge benefit.
"And it's all about the bonus points for us right now, so we can be risky. We can afford to lose some points by taking bigger risks and possibly getting those bonus points. With wins come momentum."
In 29 starts at Pocono, Gordon has recorded four wins, two poles, 14 top-fives and 20 top-10's. He has led 870 laps, including 164 of 200 en route to a victory here in 1998. "Although we had a good car here in June, we're actually using a different car -- the one we ran last Sunday at Indianapolis -- this weekend," Gordon said. "Hopefully, it'll be even better. "It's certainly a gamble we can afford to take."