Richmond: Round ten preview

* Virginia Native Hamlin Likes Championship Chances * Car of Tomorrow Races Provide Down To The Wire Finishes 5th-Place Hamlin Has 1st-Place Plans DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 1, 2007) -- Denny Hamlin is fifth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings...

* Virginia Native Hamlin Likes Championship Chances
* Car of Tomorrow Races Provide Down To The Wire Finishes

5th-Place Hamlin Has 1st-Place Plans

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 1, 2007) -- Denny Hamlin is fifth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings this week. He feels like a surge toward the top -- and a challenge to first-place Jeff Gordon -- is inevitable. "We can get it done; we're just not getting it done at the right time," said Hamlin. "And believe me, Jeff Gordon and those guys have had great cars the last three or four, five weeks. But we've been as competitive, if not better, than they have. He's just kind of got all the breaks lately. ...

"When it turns around, it's going to be big. We are going to reel off a bunch of wins."

Hamlin's words of confidence were uttered on Tuesday, during the weekly NASCAR Teleconference. For a complete teleconference transcript, go to NASCARMedia.com.

'COT' Producing Close Finishes

If Saturday's running of the Crown Royal Presents the Jim Stewart 400 at Richmond International Raceway is anything like the first three events NASCAR's new Car of Tomorrow has been featured in, fans can expect another highly competitive and down-to-the-wire finish. In the new car's first three races this season -- at Bristol, Martinsville and Phoenix -- the combined margin of victory is just .826 seconds. That can be broken down to .064 seconds at Bristol (Kyle Busch holds off Jeff Burton); .065 seconds at Martinsville (Jimmie Johnson edges Jeff Gordon) and .697 seconds at Phoenix (Gordon overtakes Tony Stewart for the win). One of the goals for the new car was to provide competitive racing and so far, that has been the case.

Chase 'Seeding' Watch, Week 10: Gordon On A Roll

This year, it's all about winning.

Thus, when Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) failed to win earlier this season, his frustration was evident -- as was his elation the last two weeks, after back-to-back victories.

Example: Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet), who has three victories thus far this season, would start the Chase with 5,030 points.

As a four-time series champion, Gordon has been well aware of the increased importance of race victories, regarding qualifying for the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup -- and then, those qualifiers' "Chase seeding."

Starting this season, the 12 Chase qualifiers get 10 bonus points for each victory during the 26-race span leading up to the Chase, which consists of the last 10 races. Drivers qualifying for the Chase have their point totals "reset" to 5,000, whereupon bonus points are added, in effect creating "seedings" to start the Chase. Jimmie Johnson, with three victories thus far this season, would start the Chase in first place with 5,030 points. Gordon -- who passed Dale Earnhardt for sixth place on the all-time win list (77) by winning at Talladega this past Sunday -- would start the Chase "seeded" second, with 5,020 points, no matter if he was the points leader or not, prior to the Chase.

Gordon In Search Of Third-Straight Victory; Passes Dale Earnhardt With 77th Career Win

Jeff Gordon's quest for his fifth NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship continues to move forward in high gear.

Gordon, who leads the standings by 203 points over second-place Jeff Burton, is riding a wave of momentum heading into this Saturday night's race at Richmond. He's fresh off two straight wins at Phoenix International Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway, both historical wins, and both coming from the Bud Pole. Sunday's win at Talladega was the 77th of his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series career, moving him past Dale Earnhardt into sixth place on the series' all-time win list. The 1998 season was the last time Gordon won three or more consecutive races. He won a career-high 13 events that year -- tying the sport's seventh-best, single-season win total -- en route to claiming his third series title.

Gordon has been dominant in the previous three Car of Tomorrow races, finishing third at Bristol, second at Martinsville, and first at Phoenix. Gordon has two wins (1996, 2000), four poles, 10 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes at Richmond. Gordon will be looking to reverse his 2006 performances at RIR, however, as he finished 40th in last year's spring race and 31st in the fall event.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Jimmie Johnson , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch