GORDON CHASING NUMBER '3' AT DAYTONA June 28, 2005 Daytona Beach, Fla. - If Jeff Gordon wins this Saturday night's Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway, it would mark his third consecutive restrictor-plate win and his third consecutive ...
GORDON CHASING NUMBER '3' AT DAYTONA June 28, 2005
Daytona Beach, Fla. - If Jeff Gordon wins this Saturday night's Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway, it would mark his third consecutive restrictor-plate win and his third consecutive victory at the historic 2.5-mile speedway, tying him with Cale Yarborough as the only driver to win three straight at Daytona. A win would also move him to within three of 'No. 3,' Dale Earnhardt, in career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victories.
Gordon, a 72-time winner on NASCAR's premier circuit, could also accomplish something only Earnhardt was able to do - win three restrictor-plate races in one season. Earnhardt, a seven-time champion, won both races held at Talladega Superspeedway and one of two events held at Daytona International Speedway in 1990. After wins at Talladega and Daytona earlier this year, Gordon can match that feat with a win on Saturday night.
"We just need to get things turned around right now, whether it's winning or finishing in the top five," said Gordon, who has fallen from second to 14th in the point standings since posting a second-place finish at Darlington Raceway six races ago. "We've had a rough stretch recently - some of it within our control and some of it out of our control - and we need to get back on track.
"There are no guarantees in this business. Infineon was one of our best tracks and we didn't have a good day because of transmission problems. Daytona is a good track for us, but that doesn't necessarily mean we'll have a good finish."
Gordon, who has won four of the last five restrictor- plate races held at Daytona and Talladega, has fared well at the Florida track. In 25 career starts, Gordon has amassed six victories including three Daytona 500's, three poles, 10 top-fives and 14 top-10's. Last year, he led 61 laps from the pole en route to a Pepsi 400 victory.
"I'm looking forward to the race because I know we have a good car, a good team, and I know that we can win," said Gordon. "But I also know that we have to avoid the 'big one.'"
The best way to avoid the 'big one' - the multi-car wreck that usually occurs at the restrictor-plate events - is to be in front of it. Gordon, who won this year's Daytona 500 after leading 29 of 203 laps, has led 42 percent of the laps raced at Daytona and Talladega this year. Using his mirrors is the best way to keep the competition in them.
"You need a great spotter - and I have one in Ron Thiel - but sometimes they have blind spots, so you must depend on your mirrors," said Gordon. "I 'mirror' my car up, trying to see as much as I can out the back and sides of my car.
"Momentum is key here, whether it's keeping your momentum up or watching your mirrors and slowing down the momentum of those behind you."
If he is successful in keeping the competition in his mirrors, Gordon will be celebrating win number seventy three.