Darlington: Jeff Gordon preview

DARLINGTON, S.C. - Jeff Gordon is ranked third in all-time victories at Darlington Raceway. Darlington is number one on Gordon's list. Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, leads all active drivers with six victories at the egg-shaped...

DARLINGTON, S.C. - Jeff Gordon is ranked third in all-time victories at Darlington Raceway. Darlington is number one on Gordon's list.

Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, leads all active drivers with six victories at the egg-shaped raceway entering this Sunday's Carolina Dodge Dealers 400. Only David Pearson (10) and Dale Earnhardt (9) have visited Victory Lane more times.

When comparing number of wins, Darlington ranks first on Gordon's list. His six wins here eclipse his five wins at Bristol Motor Speedway and five victories at Martinsville Speedway.

Much of Gordon's success at Darlington has come in the second half of the year, though. His only trip to Victory Lane in the 400-mile spring race came in 1996 and his average finish is 16.9 compared to 7.6 in the 500-mile fall event.

"We always seem to run well at Darlington," Gordon said. "I don't know why we've had more success in the Southern 500. That may not be a bad thing now that the 500-mile race is part of the 'Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.'"

Gordon's first top-five at Darlington was a victory in September of 1995. He went on to win three in a row and five of eight races at the track "Too Tough To Tame." During that eight-race span, Gordon finished no worse than third.

The track may even be tougher this time around with the addition of the SAFER wall barriers. The installation of the barriers has decreased the amount of racing surface in the turns.

"This place was difficult to drive before the changes," Gordon said. "We've always run so close to the wall -- sometimes even hitting it -- in the past. Now we have less track to work with before we hit the wall.

"I applaud tracks for installing the new walls. Unlike most tracks that have the SAFER walls, we'll have to adjust our line here. Friday's practice session and qualifying should be interesting."

Along with his six wins, Gordon has 11 top-fives and 14 top 10's in 22 career starts at Darlington. He has led 18 events for a total of 1,378 laps, the most of any active driver and almost 500 more than the closest active driver. Six times he has led more than 100 laps with three of those instances occurring since the 2000 season.

Last year, Gordon failed to finish in the top 10 in either race at Darlington. This marked the first time this had happened since his rookie season of 1993.

"Darlington got the best of us last year," said Gordon. "We don't want that to happen again this year.

"I hope that doesn't happen again for another 10 years."

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