Darlington: Jeff Gordon preview

Gordon a favorite for Darlington victory. DARLINGTON, S.C. - Jeff Gordon does not have a favorite track, but he sure has taken a liking to Darlington Raceway. Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, did not fare too well early in his ...

Gordon a favorite for Darlington victory.

DARLINGTON, S.C. - Jeff Gordon does not have a favorite track, but he sure has taken a liking to Darlington Raceway.

Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, did not fare too well early in his NASCAR Winston Cup career at the egg-shaped track, notching only one top 10 in his first five starts.

"We didn't have the finishes we would have liked in our first few races, but I've always enjoyed racing here," Gordon said. "We ran well but either had mechanical problems or I knocked the fenders off the car.

"It just took a little time before it all came together."

Five races to be exact as he won in his sixth start. And his seventh. And his eighth. In fact, over a span of eight races from 1995 to 1999, his worst finish was third at the track "Too Tough Too Tame."

"It's still too tough to tame," Gordon said. "You have to respect the track every single lap and take what it gives you. If you try and take more than it will allow, you can count on a 'black stripe' on the side of your car at the very least."

Gordon enters this Sunday's event after his first top 10 of the year, a second-place finish at Atlanta. The finish moved the four-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion up 12 places to eighth in the points standings, 141 points behind the leader.

"We didn't win in Atlanta, but we led laps and battled hard for the win," said Gordon. "That was our first good finish of the season -- even though we've run well at each event -- and I think that will give us some momentum this weekend.

"We ran well in this event last year and I thought we had a great shot to win, but the car suffered some damage in a wreck which ruined our chances. We won the Southern 500 which should give the DuPont team a little extra confidence when we arrive this weekend."

That marked his fifth Southern 500 victory, tying him with Cale Yarborough for the most victories in the annual Labor Day weekend event. His six wins overall trail only David Pearson (10 wins) and Dale Earnhardt (9 wins) for all-time victories at the South Carolina track.

Along with those six wins, he has 11 top-five's, 14 top-10's and has led at least one lap in all but three of his 20 career starts. He has led a total of 1,299 laps which leads all active drivers. With those statistics, Darlington surely must be his favorite track.

"I like all the tracks," Gordon said. "If you hate a track, you're probably defeated before the car is unloaded on Friday.

"Let's just say it's one of my favorites."

-hm/pprplus-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , David Pearson