LONG POND, Pa. (June 4, 2012) - For five-time track winner Jeff Gordon and Team DuPont, it is a trip to the unknown.
Pocono Raceway, site of this Sunday's Pocono 400 presented by #NASCAR, was repaved during the off-season. While the defending race winner is looking for a similar result, Gordon expects it to be with a much different setup.
"There really is no comparison from last year to this year because nothing compares to a repave," said Gordon. "We'll probably have very little in our setup this weekend compared to what we ran here last year.
"Even if the track didn't change, Goodyear could bring a different (compound of) tire. If we used the same tire, a year-old setup still probably wouldn't be fast enough - even if you dominated the race the previous year.
"The sport evolves that much every year."
While the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has changed a lot since his debut in 1992, Gordon has been able to place the No. 24 atop the leader board on a consistent basis over those 20 years. He is just 18 laps shy of 23,000 career laps led. Of those, 957 were at Pocono (tops among all drivers) - and Gordon has led 18 or more laps here 14 times.
In 38 starts at the 2.5-mile track, Gordon has five wins, two poles, 17 top-fives and 27 top-10's. While he believes the setups will be different, Gordon expects some of the same challenges this weekend at the Pennsylvania track.
"No matter what, we'll face similar challenges (at Pocono) just because the shape and the banking of the turns haven't changed, " said Gordon. "The grip level and the smoothness of the track will determine how aggressive we can be getting the car 'sealed' down to the race track."
One other significant change is the shortening of the races at Pocono from 500 miles to 400 miles.
"I think a shorter race at Pocono is going to be a better race and a more exciting race," said Gordon. "We'll have fewer laps, so I don't know how that will change strategy for the race."
Another unknown for Team DuPont heading into "The Tricky Triangle."