GORDON EXPECTS DARLINGTON "REAL ESTATE" TO BE AT A PREMIUM Real estate at Darlington Raceway is scarce, but Jeff Gordon hopes to control enough of it on Saturday night in the Dodge Avenger 500 when he attempts to capture his seventh victory at...
GORDON EXPECTS DARLINGTON "REAL ESTATE" TO BE AT A PREMIUM
Real estate at Darlington Raceway is scarce, but Jeff Gordon hopes to control enough of it on Saturday night in the Dodge Avenger 500 when he attempts to capture his seventh victory at the famed track. Gordon, who won four consecutive Southern 500's from 1995 - 1998, has six victories, three poles, 14 top-five's and 17 top-10's in 26 career starts at the 1.366-mile track. While he has not visited Victory Lane here since 2002, he has posted top-three finishes in his last three starts.
"I love Darlington," said Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet Impala SS. "I'm going to love it no matter what car we run. But I will say it's going to have some real challenges this weekend."
Location, location, location on the track may be at an all-time high this weekend. In 2004, the racing surface was narrowed after the installation of SAFER walls. This weekend, it is the introduction of the "boxier," heavier "Car of Tomorrow" (CoT) to the track "Too Tough to Tame" that provides the new challenge to an already challenging track.
Gordon, who has captured five poles this year and three consecutive, believes a strong qualifying run on Friday can only benefit you once the race begins. "Starting first is going to be pretty important here because I think it's going to be tough to pass," said Gordon. "I don't think you're going to want to run behind cars because it's hard enough to stay out of the wall by yourself, let alone when there's aerodynamics being taken away from you. "With the heavier car, we're going to be using up every bit of real estate we possibly can in the corners -- hopefully, without hitting the wall."
Gordon who was critical of the CoT prior to its first race, has found success in the new car. In four races, he has three poles and finishes of first (Phoenix), second (Martinsville), third (Bristol) and fourth (Richmond). "I think a lot of people thought I was complaining about it because I wasn't going to run well in it, and that wasn't the case at all," Gordon said. "It was quite the opposite. "We ran well in some of the early tests, and we've been strong from the beginning. The aerodynamic package isn't bad, but I'm not crazy about the high roll center of the car. "And you'll never sell me on the way it looks.
"Hendrick Motorsports has done their homework with this car, and I think this car fits my driving style a little bit better than the current car."
Which could lead Team DuPont to the most prized property at the track -- Victory Lane.