TALLADEGA, Ala. - Jeff Gordon's strategy will be to stay up front as long as possible when the NASCAR Winston Cup Series visits Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday for the Talladega 500. Gordon, who will drive a special DuPont/Pepsi paint scheme...
TALLADEGA, Ala. - Jeff Gordon's strategy will be to stay up front as long as possible when the NASCAR Winston Cup Series visits Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday for the Talladega 500.
Gordon, who will drive a special DuPont/Pepsi paint scheme during the race, does not see an advantage as the defending champion of the event.
"I won before they made the rule change," Gordon said referring to NASCAR aerodynamic rules implemented last fall for Daytona and Talladega. "I felt like I had learned so much from Dale Earnhardt on the superspeedways. Just knowing what the air does and how to make passes when they said you couldn't make the pass by yourself. It used to be that if you're leading on the last lap, you were probably going to win.
"What it takes now is first, to be there at the finish and second, luck. When it's four deep, 10 rows back, it's pretty hard to have any kind of strategy. My thoughts are you run as hard as you can and try to stay up front."
Though a driver can be shuffled deep into the pack at anytime, he can just as easily make it to the front again. Gordon and Earnhardt proved that in 2000.
Gordon qualified eighth in October, but started at the rear of the field due to using a backup car. He was leading the race only 13 laps into the event. Earnhardt, in 18th-position and seemingly out of contention with five laps to go, won the race.
"It's hard to say when you're going to go from the back to the front or the front to the back," Gordon said. "All you can do is run your race and just hope that nothing happens. And if it does, just hope you're not in it."
Gordon has experienced both ends of the spectrum. He has two wins, seven top-five's, eight top-10's, and has led 364 laps in 16 events. He has also failed to finish four times.
"It's just amazing what goes on here with 43 cars stacked up because of the rules we have now," Gordon said. "There's a chance of someone making a mistake and there being a multi-car crash.
"This is a very, very strenuous race. Last time I was here, my eyeballs hurt. When the race was over, my head hurt just because of the concentration level you have to keep throughout the race."