WITH SIX TO GO, GORDON STILL HAS A SHOT AT FIFTH TITLE CONCORD, N.C. (October 10, 2006) - Although the situation is not as bad as he initially thought, Jeff Gordon and Team DuPont still face an uphill battle entering this Saturday night's Bank...
WITH SIX TO GO, GORDON STILL HAS A SHOT AT FIFTH TITLE
CONCORD, N.C. (October 10, 2006) - Although the situation is not as bad as he initially thought, Jeff Gordon and Team DuPont still face an uphill battle entering this Saturday night's Bank of America 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Following two third-place finishes in the first two races of the "Chase for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup," Gordon was second in the point standings and only six out of the lead. A fuel pump failure at Kansas Speedway dropped him to sixth in the "Chase" and, after being involved in an accident at Talladega Superspeedway, the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion thought his 2006 title chances were over. "It's pretty much done for us, as far as I'm concerned," Gordon said from the garage area at Talladega Superspeedway while the crew worked to repair his battered No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet. "Our chances are pretty slim to win the championship, if not completely done. "A lot can still happen, but we're going to take a hit."
And a lot did happen. Points leader Jeff Burton encountered trouble of his own and finished 27th, while Chase contenders Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Jimmie Johnson were involved in a last lap accident while battling for the lead and finished 23rd and 24th, respectively. Gordon dropped only one spot in the standings after the smoke cleared, and lost only 27 points to the leader.
A fifth championship is still attainable, but Gordon and Team DuPont will have to turn things around at a track where they have struggled recently. In 27 starts at the North Carolina track, Gordon has captured four wins (including his first Cup victory in 1994), seven poles (including his first Cup pole in 1993 and five straight in the May event from 1994 - 1998), 13 top-fives and 15 top-10's. But his last three finishes here have been 30th, 38th and 36th all due to accidents.
"We've run well here recently and led some laps, we just haven't finished the job," said Gordon. "Whether it's been mechanical failure or being collected in an accident, I've hit too many walls here recently." The No. 24 team will use chassis No. 24-387 in Saturday night's 500-mile event. It visited Victory Lane earlier this year at Chicagoland, and Gordon also drove it to top-five finishes at California and Michigan. "This has been a good car for us, and I hope it works well for us again this weekend," said Gordon. "We've started to run a lot better at the intermediate tracks, and that's why I'm looking forward to this race. "This DuPont team is capable of winning races, and that's what we're going to try to do this weekend. "That's the best way to get ourselves back in the championship hunt."