Four-time Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon looks to score his second win this season, and 63rd of his career at the legendary Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway Sunday. Gordon has one of the most impressive resumes at Darlington, having...
Four-time Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon looks to score his second win this season, and 63rd of his career at the legendary Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway Sunday. Gordon has one of the most impressive resumes at Darlington, having accumulated six wins, 11 top- fives, and 14 top-ten finishes here in his career. In addition, he has led more laps than any other active racer, with 1,378.
Gordon won this event last year, and has had four consecutive Southern 500 victories, from 1995-1998. Coming to the sweltering 1.366-mile track in South Carolina, Gordon is hoping to add another achievement to his Darlington dossier.
"Obviously, I love Darlington," commented Gordon. "We're definitely looking forward to going back there - especially because of the way things have been going for us the last three or four weeks. It's been frustrating on one side where the finishes haven't come the way we'd like them to. But at the same time, the performances of the cars and of the team have been going good. We've just really got to get some things going our way.
"The last time we were at Darlington, things looked like they were going our way until late in the race. I brushed the wall, which is so easy to do at that place. So, I'm looking forward to going back there and trying to get back to Victory Lane and have a car like we had last time and to keeping it out of the wall."
Gordon's season has been spotty. After making a strong run at his fifth Winston Cup title, the No. 24 team's last three races have been disastrous. A last lap incident at Watkins Glen with Kevin Harvick relegated him to a 33rd place result, the next weekend at Michigan mechanical issues plagued Gordon as tire and kill switch problems earned him a 30th-place finish.
Things did not improve for Gordon last weekend at Bristol. While he garnered his 45th career pole, a lap 444 incident with Matt Kenseth blew his chances for a decent finish. The #24 Chevy placed 28th.
The string of poor results has slipped Gordon from third in the series standings with just five races ago to fifth, 532 points away from leader Matt Kenseth.
While Gordon and team 24 are disappointed with the lackluster results of the past weeks, they are hopeful that a turnaround in luck is in sight.
"I believe, and I think our team believes, that running fast and having good race cars and qualifying up front are much harder to fix than trying things go your way," said Gordon. A lot of things are out of our control and we just try to control the things that are in our hands. And that's just putting the best race cars we can out there.
"Even though we haven't had results over the past four weeks - other than the Brickyard - the performance has been awesome as far as I'm concerned. We've had two poles and have led a bunch of laps. We've just got to go to the next one and hope it goes our way."
With Gordon's list of credits at Darlington, it's a strong bet that he will compete for the win on Sunday in an attempt to make some points back on point leader Kenseth.
Kenseth's record here is mediocre; he finished 37th at this event in 2002, and has never placed higher than sixth.