Sonoma: Jeff Gordon preview

Gordon hopes new car provides same result at Sears Point. SONOMA, Calif. - When it came to their road course program, Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 DuPont team followed the same old saying for five years - "if it ain't broke, don't fix...

Gordon hopes new car provides same result at Sears Point.

SONOMA, Calif. - When it came to their road course program, Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 DuPont team followed the same old saying for five years - "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Each of Gordon's record seven road course victories came in the same car. He rolled off six straight wins in it starting at Watkins Glen in 1997, but the streak was broken in 2000 with a 23rd-place finish at Watkins Glen and was followed up with a third at Sears Point in 2001. The car won its final race at Watkins Glen in 2001, giving Gordon the record and his seventh win in the last nine road course events.

Despite the car's phenomenal record, the driver of the "fire & flames" No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet feels that the competition has caught up with him.

"That's why we decided to build a new car," said Gordon who has three wins, three poles and six top-five finishes in nine Winston Cup starts at Sears Point. "We had one car that won all those races and was so good that we were afraid to change it - afraid to do anything different.

"As a matter of fact, I tested that car against a new car a couple of years ago and liked it better than the new car. So we stayed with that older car. But once we ran those races, we realized we weren't the best car. We won at Watkins Glen last year, but mainly because Robby (Gordon) fell out. So we built a brand new car and tested it at VIR (Virginia International Raceway). It was fast and we're happy with it. We're hoping to gain something with it.

"The first time you go to a road course, you think you'll never be able to win one. All of a sudden you start clicking and getting comfortable with shifting and braking and all of those types of things. And then you find yourself in Victory Lane."

With five consecutive top-10 finishes, Gordon has also raced his way into a tie for second-place in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings with teammate/employee Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet. The two are only 110 points behind leader Sterling Marlin.

"To be where we are right now and not have any wins is amazing," said Gordon. "We've been in position to win several races this year, but we've run into some bad luck and things haven't fallen our way. But, we've still managed to get some good finishes and it shouldn't be long until will roll into Victory Lane again."

If this new car is anything like the old one, it should be carrying Gordon back to Victory Lane this Sunday. But the team knows if something happens to it they have a reliable backup.

"We're taking it with us," said Gordon. "And with that car's history, I'm sure there are probably 40 teams out there this weekend that would love to have it as their primary car."

-hm-

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Series NASCAR-CUP

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