At Darlington, Gordon Set To Make 400th Start DARLINGTON, S.C. - As he prepares to make his 400th start this Sunday, Jeff Gordon's career percentages in NASCAR's premier series mirror his statistics at Darlington Raceway, save one - ...
At Darlington, Gordon Set To Make 400th Start
DARLINGTON, S.C. - As he prepares to make his 400th start this Sunday, Jeff Gordon's career percentages in NASCAR's premier series mirror his statistics at Darlington Raceway, save one - wins.
Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, is the only competitor in the "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Championship" with multiple wins at the track regarded as "Too Tough to Tame." He will look to grab his seventh victory at the 1.366-mile speedway in the Mountain Dew Southern 500, and his 70th overall.
Trailing points leader Kurt Busch by 41, Gordon knows he has to attack the track while respecting it at the same time.
"This track has really been good to me over the years," Gordon said. "You have to be patient and respect the track, know when to go - and when to conserve.
"We're second in the points with only two races left, so we need to be aggressive. The pressure (of being in a tight points race) will keep building and it will become more intense. This is one track where you'd better block all that out.
"If you don't, this track will bite you in a second."
A new twist is the possibility that the race will end under the lights. Adding the fact that SAFER walls installed prior to this year's Spring event effectively cut off 30 inches of the racing surface, the track is tougher than ever.
"We ran right up against the wall before they added the SAFER barriers," Gordon said. "Now, that infamous Darlington 'stripe' is that much closer to reality.
"We were able to run some laps at night during an exhibition here in August. It will be interesting to see how the setting sun affects driver vision during the closing stages of the race, and how shadows from the wall affect depth perception.
"Day or night, one thing doesn't change. You must respect the track."