CHASE SPOT AVAILABLE TO GORDON AND TEAM DUPONT AT BRISTOL "Chase." Entering Saturday's Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Jeff Gordon is second in the point standings. He holds a 387-point advantage over 13th place and, to...
CHASE SPOT AVAILABLE TO GORDON AND TEAM DUPONT AT BRISTOL
Entering Saturday's Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Jeff Gordon is second in the point standings. He holds a 387-point advantage over 13th place and, to secure a coveted spot in the 12-driver "Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup" field, only needs to widen that gap by a minimum of four points following the short track event. A win would ensure that occurs.
And winning is something Gordon is familiar with at the 0.533-mile track. In 35 starts, the driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet has five wins, five poles, 14 top-fives and 20 top-10's. Gordon's last win here came in the 2002 night race - a victory that snapped a 31-race winless streak.
While Gordon has two top-five finishes in the last four events held at the Tennessee track, it just has not clicked for Team DuPont since track changes occurred after the spring event of 2007.
"We've struggled here ever since they changed the track," said Gordon. "I just feel like I had a knack for the old configuration - a groove and a feel and a setup that really worked well for us.
"Ever since the change, none of that has seemed to work. It's about reinventing myself as a driver - trying to find a different groove that works and giving good feedback to the team to get the car to work the way we need it to.
"We feel like we get a little bit better each time we race here."
While a win would secure a spot in the "Chase" - and the 10 additional bonus points awarded for each victory entering the 10-race playoff, there is some wiggle room for Gordon entering the 24th event of the 2010 season. If the 82-time winner exits Bristol with a 323-point advantage over 13th - a loss of 64 points to that position, Gordon only needs to start events 25 and 26 to be a "Chase" participant. But gaining points and not losing them - or your temper - is on Gordon's mind heading into the high-banked short track event.
"With 15 and 16-second laps and with the banking you have at Bristol, and then with 43 big, heavy stock cars out there on a track that is a half-mile in length, you're going to run out of real estate," said Gordon. "Even though they've made changes and made the track have wider grooves, it's still not enough.
"You are going to run out of patience, and that causes a lot of tempers to flare." And while Gordon hopes to avoid fireworks on the track Saturday night, he would not mind watching the post-race fireworks display with the No. 24 DuPont crew from Victory Lane.