'Old School' may be the Key to Victory for Gordon at Talladega TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 25, 2006) -- Will Ferrell may be starring in the upcoming movie "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" but, according to Jeff Gordon, it may be "old ...
'Old School' may be the Key to Victory for Gordon at Talladega
TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 25, 2006) -- Will Ferrell may be starring in the upcoming movie "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" but, according to Jeff Gordon, it may be "old school" that determines the winner of Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. In an effort to eliminate the dangerous but common tactic of bump drafting at restrictor- plate tracks, NASCAR is requiring each team to use "softer bumpers" during this weekend's event.
Gordon, the two-time defending champion of the Spring event at Talladega, believes drafting techniques he learned early in his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup career will prove beneficial.
"I like this rule because it's going to take a lot of the bump drafting out of play," Gordon said. "I think there is still going to be some bump drafting -- especially late in the race. But I think it will make guys have to think a little bit more about how they pass.
"That goes back to the type of drafting I learned early on. We used the air to push the cars around instead of the bumpers. I like that type of drafting, and I'm curious to see how we'll manage it."
Dale Earnhardt, Sr., arguably the best restrictor-plate driver of all time, captured a record 11 victories in 53 career restrictor-plate starts at Talladega and Daytona International Speedway before his untimely death in 2001. Since that day, his son has carried on the tradition, scoring seven victories in 20 starts. While Dale Earnhardt, Jr., in Victory Lane at a restrictor-plate track became commonplace, Gordon failed to post a victory at the two big tracks from 2001 to 2003. But, in this race in 2004, Gordon posted a victory that was the beginning of a resurgence.
"We were getting beat by the DEI (Dale Earnhardt, Inc.) cars pretty regularly, so we focused on improving our restrictor-plate program," said Gordon, who has four wins, 11 top- five and 14 top-10 finishes in 26 starts at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. "Steve Bergh and all the guys in the DuPont shop worked hard on the cars, and we started to see results."
The hard work has paid off as Gordon has won four of the past eight restrictor-plate races, including the 2005 Daytona 500. He now has 10 career wins, and can tie the elder Earnhardt for most restrictor-plate victories if his specially painted No. 24 DuPont/Pepsi Chevrolet is the first to cross the finish line on Sunday.
"Senior was the man when it came to these types of races," Gordon said. "I got 'schooled' by him many times in the draft, but so did a lot of drivers. Some of the moves he made were incredible. "While it was frustrating at times, I learned a lot just by watching him."
Lessons that could lead to Gordon's first victory of the 2006 campaign.