HAMPTON, Ga. - With five top-fives in his last five races, including a win at Martinsville last Sunday, Jeff Gordon hopes to carry that momentum into this Sunday's Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Gordon, driver of the No. 24...
HAMPTON, Ga. - With five top-fives in his last five races, including a win at Martinsville last Sunday, Jeff Gordon hopes to carry that momentum into this Sunday's Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, is familiar with momentum and winning races "back-to-back." He has followed up a win with another trip to Victory Lane 17 times in his 11-year career, including one stretch in 1996 when he won three in a row. In 1998, he tied a modern-era NASCAR Winston Cup record by winning four consecutive races. In addition, he ended that year with two consecutive wins and began the 1999 season with a victory in the Daytona 500.
"I look back throughout my career at things that would happen and you ride the wave when it carries you," Gordon said. "And you keep your chin up when it's not going your way. I've been very fortunate to win the number of races we've won and the championships we've won."
In 1995, Gordon won seven races en route to his first championship. One year later, he grabbed 10 wins and finished second in the point standings to teammate Terry Labonte. In 1997 and 1998, he won his second and third championships and notched 10 wins and 13 wins, respectively.
"You can't keep that kind of momentum up all the time," Gordon said. "Sometimes you have to get knocked down a little bit before you can climb back up there and be on top."
At times, the 2003 season has been frustrating for Gordon. He went through a nine-race span that began in July and lasted through September where he finished outside the top-10 seven times. The performance was there, the finishes were not.
"We've actually performed a lot better than our results show," Gordon said. "We can't blame anyone but ourselves when that happens. There are little areas we can improve on, but as a whole we've been a solid team this year."
Evidenced by his laps-led statistics, Gordon leads the series with 1,580, which is 510 more than his closest competitor. By comparison, he led 1,717 laps during his 13-win season of 1998.
In 22 career starts at Atlanta, Gordon has led at least one lap in 14 events for a total of 882 laps. He has captured three victories, one pole, nine top-fives and 13 top-10's. Earlier this year, Gordon started 30th and led 68 laps before Bobby Labonte shoved him aside for the victory.
"Bobby made a great move here in March," Gordon said. "He had momentum and I slid up in front of him to block him. He gave me a little tap and I got sideways. I tried to squeeze him high, but I knew we'd wreck if I took him any further.
"He didn't do anything I wouldn't have done."