Bristol: Jeff Gordon preview

GORDON AWARE THAT WINNING BRISTOL BEGINS WITH SURVIVAL BRISTOL, Tenn. - A good starting position in Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway is exactly that, a good start. A good finish? Jeff Gordon believes it is 500 laps of patience,...

GORDON AWARE THAT WINNING BRISTOL BEGINS WITH SURVIVAL

BRISTOL, Tenn. - A good starting position in Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway is exactly that, a good start. A good finish? Jeff Gordon believes it is 500 laps of patience, mixed with aggression.

Gordon has fared well throughout his 13-year career at the high-banked short track. In 24 career starts, he has captured five victories including four straight Spring events wins from 1995 - 1998, four poles, 10 top-fives and 15 top-10's. He has led the most laps seven times and has led 2,330 circuits around Bristol.

His average starting position at the short track is 4.8, and he has started outside the top eight only three times. Over his last six starts at the speedway, Gordon has four poles and a 1.33 starting average.

"A good starting position means a lot here and can make for a better result on Sunday, but it doesn't guarantee anything," said Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet. "Just surviving 500 laps around here is tough. You are constantly weaving in and out of traffic, and the goal is to stay out of trouble and be there at the end.

"When we have a car at the end of the race, this DuPont team is usually battling for the win or a top five."

While 43 cars battling on the tight confines of the high-banked track is a recipe for accidents, Gordon hopes to avoid those incidents with a combination of aggressiveness and patience.

"This is a tough place to pass with really only one groove," said Gordon, who currently sits 12th in the point standings, 216 behind the leader. "You have to know when to push, and when not to push.

"If you're out front in clean air, you want to maintain that position so you're going to push a little harder to keep it. Once you lose it, then you don't want to push as hard. That's when guys start to poke the nose of their car inside of you and you go into 'blocking' mode.

"I might push the limits and make him work for the position for several laps, but, if he's faster, I'll let him go and I'll try to work back into line.

"Too much blocking can lead to a wreck, and it's difficult to win this race behind the wall with a wrecked race car.

"To win this race, you must first finish."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon