'MAX' POINTS FOR GORDON IN CALIFORNIA? FONTANA, Calif. (October 5, 2010) - Entering the fourth event of NASCAR's playoffs, can a better-than-average finish for Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 team lead to the 'max' at Auto Club Speedway? Gordon,...
'MAX' POINTS FOR GORDON IN CALIFORNIA?
FONTANA, Calif. (October 5, 2010) - Entering the fourth event of NASCAR's playoffs, can a better-than-average finish for Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 team lead to the 'max' at Auto Club Speedway?
Gordon, who will drive a specially painted No. 24 DuPont/Pepsi Max Chevrolet in Sunday's Pepsi Max 400, is tied with Carl Edwards for the best average finish (7.3) in the first three races of the 2010 "Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup." While the native of California is still very much in championship contention, Gordon knows gains must be made.
"These first three races haven't gone as well as we had hoped, yet we are still very much in the thick of it," said Gordon, who is fifth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings and only 58 out of the lead. "We're still very much in the championship hunt and I think you have to keep yourself in it until Talladega or Martinsville. Those two are like our 'wildcard' events and you just have to see how those two events go.
"You can take stock of where you are after that.
"Our game plan hasn't changed yet, though. Every weekend, we're trying to qualify well, trying to race at or near the front and trying to win. We're trying to get the best finish we possibly can and get the maximum amount of points possible." And Auto Club Speedway may afford the No. 24 team that opportunity. In 20 career starts at the two-mile track, Gordon has three wins (1997, 1999 and 2004), two poles, and 10 top-five finishes (50 percent). In 2009, Gordon posted a pair of runner-up finishes here and in February of this year, he led the event before a spark plug issue resulted in a 20th-place finish.
"We seem to run well here, and you have to have good power and good balance," said Gordon. "Right now, there's a lot of stuff going on around the garage with teams trying to run 'soft' in the back versus 'stiff' in the back. At a track like this, you can really experiment with it because the straightaways are so long and it's a big, fast race track.
"We're trying to get the spoiler out of the air a little bit and trying to work that balance out as well."
And if Gordon and the No. 24 team can find the right balance, it just may be worth the 'max.'