TEAM DUPONT 'OH SO CLOSE' HEADING INTO RICHMOND RICHMOND, Va. (April 27, 2010) - Running first has not been an issue. To finish first in Saturday night's Crown Royal presents the Heath Calhoun 400, Jeff Gordon and Team DuPont just need to find...
TEAM DUPONT 'OH SO CLOSE' HEADING INTO RICHMOND
RICHMOND, Va. (April 27, 2010) - Running first has not been an issue. To finish first in Saturday night's Crown Royal presents the Heath Calhoun 400, Jeff Gordon and Team DuPont just need to find that 'extra little bit.'
Gordon, who is 10th in the point standings, leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2010 with 45 bonus points for laps led. He has led seven of nine races including the most laps in two events.
At Richmond, the front is a familiar spot for the Hendrick Motorsports driver. In his last six races at the 0.75-mile track, Gordon has three top-five and six top-10 finishes. He has led the most laps on two occasions and the No. 24 Impala has paced the field 504 times during that span - nearly 21 percent of the laps run. But victory has eluded Gordon during that stretch.
"I've always liked racing here in Richmond, but we went through some races where we sure didn't have runs we were hoping for and it wasn't much fun," said Gordon, referring to four consecutive finishes of 30th or worse in 2005 and 2006. "We seem to have turned it around though, and I'm really looking forward to this weekend's race."
In 34 career starts at the Virginia track, the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has two wins (1996 and 2000), five poles (leads all active drivers), 13 top- fives and 22 top-10's. He has led the most laps four times and his 1,258 laps led are 359 more than any active driver.
But leading the last lap is most important.
"We've been pretty close recently, and I don't think we're that far off," said crew chief Steve Letarte. "But it'll take some work to find that extra little bit. We'll try some things at the start of practice on Friday that we hope work.
"But we know we can fall back on what we've run here recently, if need be." If there is a late caution flag, the winning decision may be in the hands of the crew chief.
"There are a lot of factors that go into that decision," said Letarte. "Do we have enough fuel to make additional laps if it goes three attempts at a 'green-white- checkered' finish? Do we pit to change tires? If so, do we take two or four?
"Toward the end of the races recently, I've been asking the engineers on the pit box with me, '^awhat would you do if the caution came out now?' After we've run some more laps, I'll pose the question to them again. We need to be prepared in case we do get a caution late in the race. On a short track like Richmond, there isn't much time to make that decision.
"Whether our call is the right one or the wrong one though, is defined by the calls of the other teams. Our strategy might work the majority of the scenarios.
"But did it work this time?"