Daytona Jeff Gordon preview

Gordon Attempts to Repeat History in Pepsi 400 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 26) -- Defending Pepsi 400 champion Jeff Gordon hopes that history will repeat itself in the 38th Pepsi 400 July 6 at 11 a.m. at Daytona International Speedway. ...

Gordon Attempts to Repeat History in Pepsi 400 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 26) -- Defending Pepsi 400 champion Jeff Gordon hopes that history will repeat itself in the 38th Pepsi 400 July 6 at 11 a.m. at Daytona International Speedway. Just as he did a year ago, Gordon will come to the "World Center of Racing" within range of the lead in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings. In July 1995, Gordon trailed Sterling Marlin by 12 points before he walked away with a victory in the Pepsi 400 that initiated a run to his first NASCAR Winston Cup championship. Gordon won at New Hampshire International Speedway the weekend after Daytona, took the point lead and was never headed. His Pepsi 400 victory spurred the event's youngest winner ever to score three wins, eight top-five finishes and 13 top-10s in the 16 races making up the second half of the season. "To have some momentum at this point in the season is pretty critical to our goal of winning another championship," says Gordon. "Last year we went on a pretty good set of races starting at Daytona in July and that really got our consistency and momentum going. "Sure, we'd like to win the Daytona 500, but a win at Daytona any time is special and the Pepsi 400 is our next chance." With the NASCAR Winston Cup season at its mid-point, the year seems to be a mirror image of '95. After a strong start by Dale Earnhardt, Gordon finds himself in position to overtake the seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion as the season moves into the stretch run for the title, starting with the Pepsi 400. Gordon has won five races to Earnhardt's two through 14 races and is looking to Daytona to once again kickstart his drive to the championship. He's again third in the points, but this year he's 47 behind the leader. "To us every race is important," Gordon noted emphatically, "but when you get to the halfway point and that race (Pepsi 400) in July, it means a lot to run well." And despite what history says about the record of Gordon, his DuPont Refinishes Chevrolet Monte Carlo and his Hendrick Motorsports "Rainbow Warriors," the facts this season have the team in a tailspin on the big superspeedways. "Our superspeedway runs this year, at both Daytona and Talladega, haven't been anything to cheer about," Gordon says matter-of-factly. "We want to come to Daytona and prove to everyone else, and to ourselves, that we normally run good on those tracks and look forward to them. "We need to get the bug out of our system and Daytona would be the perfect place to do that." Gordon could claim Winston's $130,000 bonus if he can win the Pepsi 400 and take the point lead from Earnhardt and teammate Terry Labonte. Earnhardt, the defending pole winner for the "Mid-Summer Classic" who is eager to maintain his quest for a record eighth NASCAR Winston Cup championship, will be tough to contain at Daytona. "At least we know we can win there in July," said Earnhardt, Daytona's career victories leader with 28, including a pair of Pepsi 400s. Gordon held off 18 other lead lap cars -- including runner- up Sterling Marlin and Earnhardt -- in a frantic, one-lap dash to the checkered flag in the '95 400. The victory, Gordon's third at Daytona but his first in a NASCAR points race at the 2.5-mile superspeedway, provided the necessary momentum for Hendrick Motorsports to dominate the second half of the season. He thinks he can repeat the feat. "We've got some momentum right now, but we need to build on that and keep the pressure on Earnhardt and the rest of those guys," said Gordon. The 38th Pepsi 400 takes the green flag July 6 at 11 a.m. Great reserved tower seats are still available. For information and seat selection call the Daytona International Speedway Ticket Office at (904) 253-RACE (7223).

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Terry Labonte , Sterling Marlin