Gordon second in Daytona dress rehearsal By Bill Frederickson DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 11, 1999) After Thursday's dress rehearsal, Jeff Gordon feels he and his team are definitely ready for Sunday's big show. The driver of the DuPont ...
Gordon second in Daytona dress rehearsal By Bill Frederickson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 11, 1999) After Thursday's dress rehearsal, Jeff Gordon feels he and his team are definitely ready for Sunday's big show. The driver of the DuPont Refinishes Chevrolet, who will start the season-opening Daytona 500 from the Bud Pole, raced to a second-place finish in the first Gatorade 125-Mile Qualifying Race at Daytona International Speedway.
Gordon started from the top spot and held on to the point through lap 38 of the 50-lap sprint. Bobby Labonte, who swept both Bud Poles at Daytona last season, passed Gordon and held on for the checkered flag. Despite falling short of the win, Gordon's confidence is high for Sunday.
"I think I've got a great race car," Gordon said. "It's a car capable of winning the Daytona 500.
"I feel as good about my race car as anybody out there."
But as he followed Labonte's bumper across the Start/Finish Line, Gordon says he learned an important lesson.
"Bobby was leading and that's definitely the best place to be," Gordon said.
"I learned being out front is the best place to be, if you can stay there."
Taking the lead is one thing, maintaining it is clearly another. Gordon was helpless to prevent Labonte from passing him when Labonte had a train of drafting partners behind him.
"I was just like a lame duck out there," Gordon said. "I was just riding around.
"It seems like they're doing about 30, even though they're only doing six or seven, miles per hour more than me."
Gordon looked in his rearview mirror and saw he didn't have any help following along for the ride. And he's got a theory as to why he had trouble finding partners.
"When you win three out of the last four championships and 13 races last year," he said, "they don't want to see you win again."
But with the Bud Pole wrapped up, was Gordon willing to take a risk and make a move for the lead?
"Heck yeah, I wanted to win," Gordon said. "I wanted to pass him. But, you can't do it on your own."
Now Gordon and his crew chief Ray Evernham will examine the results of Thursday's event and determine any changes they'll make before Sunday afternoon.
"That's the best we test we could possibly have," Gordon said. "We all know where we are handling-wise and speed-wise.
"I think because the temperatures are going to get cooler on Sunday, we're going to work on getting a little more speed out of it. We went with a good handling race car today to see what kind of speed we had. Hopefully we'll be able to marriage those two together and have a good handling race car but get a little more speed out of it."
Source: NASCAR Online