Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Photo by: Michael C. Johnson

LONG POND, Pa. - Six races remain until the "Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup" field is set, and Jeff Gordon is currently outside looking in. The five-time Pocono Raceway winner knows it will take at least one win to earn a coveted "Chase" position, and track position could be the determining factor in who captures victory in Sunday's Pennsylvania 400.

Two months ago on the newly repaved 2.5-mile track, Gordon battled back from 30th - and a lap down due to a pit road speeding penalty - to run fifth in the 160-lap event. But a late pit stop for fuel placed Gordon well down the running order, and the lost track position resulted in a 19th-place finish.

"That was a tough race, especially fighting back from a lap down and also having engine temperature issues," said Gordon. "I remember two cars running off the track into the dirt that day and I was behind them both times which led to the high engine 'temps.'

"But the car had good 'speed' all day. I'm hoping the Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet has good race pace again and that we can do a good job of maintaining track position throughout the race.

"It's amazing the difference on restarts when running up front here versus running mid-pack where you'll get a run on a couple cars and before you know it, you're already three-wide with other drivers that have gotten a run on you."

Along with five wins, Gordon has two poles, 17 top-fives and 27 top-10's in 39 starts at the Pennsylvania track. He has led 957 laps here, tops among all drivers at "The Tricky Triangle."

"This track - even after the repave made it smoother and faster with more grip - still has 'old' Pocono characteristics which I love," said Gordon. "The shape and the banking of the turns haven't changed.

"It still has three unique - and three very challenging - corners."

And if he can conquer those challenges Sunday, Gordon will draw one step closer to a "Chase" berth.