DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (June 6, 2001) -- Three-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion and two-time Pepsi 400 champion Jeff Gordon made a pit stop at Daytona International Speedway on Tuesday to meet the media and participate in a free fan forum ...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (June 6, 2001) -- Three-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion and two-time Pepsi 400 champion Jeff Gordon made a pit stop at Daytona International Speedway on Tuesday to meet the media and participate in a free fan forum inside DAYTONA USA, the official attraction of NASCAR.
Gordon, who won the Pepsi 400 winner in 1995 and 1998, trails leader Dale Jarrett by 50 points in the championship standings. He's hoping to continue his season's successes, which includes two points victories and a win in the All-Star race, with a victory in the 43rd annual Pepsi 400 on July 7.
"We're looking forward to getting back here in July under the lights," said the 29-year-old Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Chevrolet Monte Carlo fielded by Hendrick Motorsports. "I think the Pepsi 400 is one of the most exciting races that there is in our series to be under the lights at Daytona running the speeds that we're running in the draft.
"I'm also excited because we got our DuPont Pepsi car. Britney Spears is going to be the grand marshal to say, 'Gentlemen start your engines.' We've got a lot of exciting things happening for this event coming up "
Gordon has a history of success in the Pepsi 400. He's the youngest winner of the mid-summer classic, winning in 1995 at the age of 23 years, 10 months and 27 days. When he claimed victory in the first nighttime running of the Pepsi 400 in 1998, he became the first driver to win under the lights at Daytona.
"When they first told me they were going to put lights up at Daytona, I was not one of the drivers for that," Gordon said. "I said, 'Your crazy, you can't run at Daytona under the lights.' To my surprise, the lights make it easier to see around here. They're no shadows. It's very well lit."
Gordon has a strong shot at a fourth Winston Cup title. His team, led by crew chief Robbie Loomis, is gelling like a thoroughbred on its stretch run in the Kentucky Derby. Loomis, who replaced Gordon's longtime crew chief Ray Evernham at the beginning of the 2000 season, developed the right combination between crew and driver.
"I'm ecstatic, especially when I look back at where we were last year," Gordon said. "Our team has really come together. You started to see at the end of last year, the consistency coming back. We were able to build on that.
"Robbie Loomis, from the first time I talked to him about this job as the crew chief for the 24 car, I just knew he and I would click. The way he does his job and the way he works with the team, it was something I felt like was a good influence for our race team.
"We're coming off a great win. We've got two wins, plus The Winston, and we're second in points. Right now, we couldn't ask for a whole lot more. We've got so much racing left to go. Points are important right now. You want to be in the hunt. Leading in the points versus being second in the points is not necessarily a huge thing to us. We want to be in this position and have a chance at the points lead with 10 races to go, not 12 or 13 races into the season."
Fans can purchase tickets for the Pepsi 400 weekend online at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.