FOUR-TIME CUP SERIES CHAMPION GORDON GOING FOR FOURTH '500'
DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (February 8, 2011) - With a victory in the Daytona 500 on February 20, Jeff Gordon would join Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough as the only drivers to win "The Great American Race" at least four times. He would also join the pair as the only drivers to win NASCAR's "Super Bowl" in three different decades. Petty's record of seven Daytona 500 wins and Yarborough's total of four occurred in the '60's, '70's and '80's. Gordon won two Daytona 500's in the '90's (1997 and 1999) while another occurred in the '00's (2005).
But the 39-year old enters the new decade with a new crew chief, Alan Gustafson, and a new team, formerly the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team. Tests in December and January have given the new pairing a chance to gel.
"I've known Alan for a number of years - working with him through our debriefs, and conversations about setups and just racing in general," said Gordon, who has six wins, three poles 12 top-fives and 18 top-10's in 36 starts at Daytona. "I love his intensity and I love the direction that he's taking the team.
"Just the fact that the tests went well I think was important for us. With a new team and a new crew chief, getting off to a good start is fantastic. "I can already sense the chemistry with this team that no matter what happens at Daytona, we've got some really good things happening for us this season."
Along with the new team, Gordon's No. 24 will also have a new look this year. While the familiar DuPont "fire and flames" paint scheme will still be visible at 14 events, Drive to End Hunger - a cause-related sponsorship - will be the primary sponsor of the No. 24 Chevrolet in 22 events starting with the 2011 edition of Speedweeks. (more)
"I think it's pretty well known through the work I do with the Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation that I enjoy working with organizations that do great things and want to give back," said Gordon. "The AARP Foundation and The Drive to End Hunger campaign that they have, to me it just makes sense and I'm really excited about representing them.
"I'm also happy we're able to continue our existing relationships with DuPont and Pepsi Max." But change in the offseason was not limited to the No. 24 team. Daytona was repaved and the 2.5-mile Florida track is now comparable to its "sister" track, Talladega Superspeedway, according to Gordon.
"We'll most likely see the two-car breakaways at Daytona like we see at Talladega," said Gordon, who holds the record for most restrictor-plate victories with 12. "I don't think we'll have these breakaways during the entire race but, more than likely, it's going to come down to these two-car breakaways at the very end.
"It's about being in the right place at the right time. It's about having the right guy to push or to push you. There's a lot of chance that comes into whether you can win the race or not.
"I hope we have a fast race car. I feel confident that we will and I hope we can put ourselves into position to battle for the win."
And join Petty and Yarborough in the history books.