TEAM DUPONT WINNING CONSECUTIVE LMS RACES? "GET A GRIP" CONCORD, N.C. (May 20, 2008) - Jeff Gordon and Team DuPont need to "get a grip," especially if they are to win back-to-back races at Lowe's Motor Speedway (LMS). Gordon, who won the October...
TEAM DUPONT WINNING CONSECUTIVE LMS RACES? "GET A GRIP"
CONCORD, N.C. (May 20, 2008) - Jeff Gordon and Team DuPont need to "get a grip," especially if they are to win back-to-back races at Lowe's Motor Speedway (LMS). Gordon, who won the October event last year at LMS, and the No. 24 team tested extensively on intermediate tracks this month to better understand the handling characteristics of the "Car of Tomorrow" (CoT) on fast, mile-and-a-half tracks. Since this Sunday night's 600-miler starts during the day and ends at night, car setup is crucial in maximizing tire "grip" on the cooling track surface.
"The tires are very heat sensitive, and there is definitely more grip at night when the track is cooler," said Gordon, who is currently 10th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings.
"But, at least for me, it seems the first lap on new tires is 'edgy.'
"Once the tires gets up to temperature, they seem to be consistent and provide good grip."
Although the CoT was used in several races in 2007, this year marked the introduction of the car on intermediate tracks - and Gordon has posted inconsistent results.
At California and Atlanta, the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion secured top-five finishes. At Las Vegas, Gordon was battling for second position late in the race, but a frightening accident ended in a 35th-place finish. At Texas, he battled the handling on the No. 24 Chevrolet Impala SS before an accident relegated him to a 43rd-place finish.
"We definitely weren't happy with how we ran at Texas, so we tested a lot this month," said crew chief Steve Letarte. "You can test all you want, but the best test is race conditions.
"And we got to experience that last weekend."
While the No. 24 team did not win Saturday night's All-Star event at LMS, it proved a valuable learning experience.
"It was much easier to adjust on the 'old' car because we had a notebook full of setup combinations that worked or didn't work," said Letarte. "We're continuing to build our Impala notebook and, while we didn't have the result we would have liked in the All-Star race, we definitely learned a lot.
"And this weekend is going to be another learning experience. This is our first race with the Chevrolet Impala SS for 600 miles. We just need to make sure we're around for the end with hopefully a good finish."
Gordon has had his fair share of "good" finishes at the 1.5-mile track. In 30 starts, he has five wins including his first Cup Series victory in 1994 and a win last October, seven poles, 14 top-fives and 16 top-10's.
During this holiday weekend race event, Gordon's No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet will carry a "Salute the Troops" decal while DuPont's Kevlar® brand fiber and Nomex® brand fiber businesses appear on the TV panel.
"I love the 'Salute the Troops' program," said Gordon. "With Memorial Day coming up, I think it's extremely important for us to honor the troops - past and present - that fight for our freedom.
"I'm also proud to be associated with DuPont and its businesses - like Kevlar® and Nomex® - that are involved in the safety of the troops serving our country."
- credit: hm