GORDON OPTIMISTIC ABOUT DAYTONA 500, 1999 SEASON DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Jeff Gordon looks to get a jump on his fourth NASCAR Winston Cup championship by capturing his second Daytona 500 victory on Valentine's day, 1999. Gordon posted...
GORDON OPTIMISTIC ABOUT DAYTONA 500, 1999 SEASON
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Jeff Gordon looks to get a jump on his fourth NASCAR Winston Cup championship by capturing his second Daytona 500 victory on Valentine's day, 1999. Gordon posted the fastest time on each of the two days that Chevrolets tested at Daytona International Speedway in January but did not match the fast time set by Ford driver Rusty Wallace. "It's a whole different ball game when you get to Daytona for Speedweeks," said Gordon. "As history has shown, the fastest qualifier is not always the one who wins. "Handling is very important at Daytona. If you can get your car to stick and handle well at the bottom of the race track, then you're the one to beat. You also have to have good track position and drafting partners." Gordon's track record at Daytona is notable. In 1993, the season he took Rookie of the Year honors, Gordon won a 125-mile qualifying race. In 1994, he won the Busch Clash, a non-points race that allows all the pole winners from the previous season to compete in a dash-configured event. Then in 1995, Gordon drove his DuPont Automotive Finishes Chevrolet to his first points race victory at Daytona by capturing the Pepsi 400 on July 4th weekend. And although he did not win a race at the famous 2.5-mile high banked oval in 1996, Gordon did capture his only pole at Daytona for the Pepsi 400. By 1997, after 19 wins and his first Winston Cup championship in 1995, Gordon won the world's premier stock car race, the Daytona 500. "Winning the Daytona 500 was one of the biggest thrills of my life," said Gordon. "That is the race that everybody wants to win more than any other. "You just look at the history of Daytona dating back to the days when they raced on the beach, then you look at all the amazing finishes through the years and it just shows what drivers will do to win this race." Gordon went on to win his second Winston Cup championship in 1997 after 10 wins and backed it up with another championship in 1998, winning 13 races and tying a modern-era record, set by Richard Petty, for the most wins in one season. Another Pepsi 400 win was a part of last season's rampage. "I'm always asked about how I can improve upon last season," said Gordon. "I certainly do not expect to go out and win 13 races again. "However, there are areas that we need to improve upon in '99. Our short track program fell off a little bit last year and we need to work at improving our efforts at tracks like Las Vegas and Texas where we've had very few laps." Gordon has, however, had many successful laps at Daytona and hopes to launch the 1999 season toward a third-consecutive NASCAR Winston Cup championship.