Fifth win at Lowe's could lead to fifth championship for Gordon. CONCORD, N.C. - Jeff Gordon's ability to adjust and adapt has him in the thick of another championship title hunt. A win in Sunday's 600-mile event at Lowe's Motor Speedway -- a...
Fifth win at Lowe's could lead to fifth championship for Gordon.
CONCORD, N.C. - Jeff Gordon's ability to adjust and adapt has him in the thick of another championship title hunt. A win in Sunday's 600-mile event at Lowe's Motor Speedway -- a race where team and driver must adapt to the ever changing track conditions -- would mark Gordon's fifth Winston Cup win at the speedway and second win of the season as he continues his "Drive for Five" NASCAR Winston Cup championships.
Gordon, who won his first career pole at Lowe's in 1993 and his first career Winston Cup victory here in 1994, knows how to negotiate the 1.5-mile layout. In 20 Winston Cup starts, he has four victories, 11 top-fives, 12 top-10's and seven poles including five straight in the World 600 from 1994 -- 1998. In addition, he has captured three victories in The Winston and two NASCAR Busch Series wins.
"Don't forget I won here last weekend as an owner," Gordon joked, referring to Jimmie Johnson's win in The Winston. "I'd prefer Jimmie visit Victory Lane this weekend to congratulate me."
This Sunday, the 600-mile event at Lowe's will test communication between driver and crew chief as the race begins at 5:30 p.m. and will end well after the sun goes down. Changing track conditions -- and adapting to those conditions -- could propel Gordon to his fourth "Non-Pepsi" Cola 600 victory.
"This is a tough race because of the 600 miles and the time of day in which it occurs," Gordon said. "It's tough to get the car setup where it works well at the beginning of the race and also works well at the end.
"The race track will tighten up as the sun goes down so you'd like the car to be a little loose during the early stages."
Loomis, crew chief for Gordon since the beginning of the 2000 season, led the DuPont team to a fifth-place finish in this event last year.
"You definitely have to build some flexibility into the car," Loomis said. "Whether it's adding spring rubbers that can be taken out as the night progresses or having the track bar in an adjustable position. We'll need to communicate well throughout the race to give Jeff a shot at the victory."
Gordon, currently fourth in points, 178 behind leader Matt Kenseth, has adjusted his driving style over the last few years to stay competitive.
"You have to be willing to learn and grow," Gordon said. "There's always somebody newer, better, faster or smarter coming into the sport. If you're not willing to accept that and allow yourself to get better and learn from others, you're going to be left behind.
"In order to stay in the sport a long time, you have to be able to adjust with the times and the technology. When I first came into Winston Cup, you could run the first half of the race in sort of a 'save' mode to save tires and equipment. Then you could start running hard and battling for the win in the second half.
"You just can't do that anymore. The tires and equipment can withstand the added speeds, so you run 'flatout' from the drop of the green flag.
"Sunday night, we'll be going 'flatout' for 600 miles."