Jeff Gordon searching for third California victory

Jeff Gordon searching for third California victory

FONTANA, CA - Jeff Gordon is no stranger to success. He has won two of the six Winston Cup races at the two-mile California oval, and scored four top- five finishes, more than any other driver. Gordon is also coming off a win at Martinsville two...

FONTANA, CA - Jeff Gordon is no stranger to success. He has won two of the six Winston Cup races at the two-mile California oval, and scored four top- five finishes, more than any other driver. Gordon is also coming off a win at Martinsville two weeks ago, the 62nd in his career.

Restart: Jeff Gordon leads the field.
Photo by Thomas Chemris.
"It's such a relief to get a win this early in the season and to place ourselves in a competitive position for the championship," Gordon said. "I've said all year that this DuPont team has been running well, we just needed everything to come together for a victory.

"Our goal right now is consistency and winning a fifth championship. Right now, we're taking things one race at a time."

Gordon's season started out slow, with only two top-fives in the first eight races of the season and two finishes of 33rd and 37th at Darlington and Las Vegas. These are tracks where Gordon usually shines; he has six victories and three poles at Darlington and one win at Vegas.

After a fickle season last year, Gordon recognizes the need for the No. 24 team to find stability this year if he is to be in contention for the championship.

"We were inconsistent a lot last year and that's what loses championships not wins them," Gordon said. "It seems like we've been running well each week this year, we just didn't have the finishes early on to prove it. Over the last six races, we've consistently finished in the top-10, which has put us in the position to contend for the championship."

This weekend Gordon is looking to land a back-to-back victory and his third at California to advance his position in the NASCAR championship standings. Currently, Gordon sits third in championship points, 139 behind leader Matt Kenseth.

The four-time Winston Cup champion will role off from the 14th position Sunday. Gordon, who believed he had a decent shot at the pole Friday, experienced some difficulties in qualifying.

"We definitely made some improvements on the car," Gordon reported. "I hadn't been able to get back to the gas that early all day. I got back into it early and then it pushed real bad late off. I got out of the groove off of two, so I had to give up the first lap.

"So, I just tried to come off of four and get as much momentum back to the line to make the second lap good. Then, the same thing happened to me up off of four on the second lap, so to be in the 38-second bracket is definitely an improvement over practice."

The No. 24 Hendrick Chevy still has things to figure out for Sunday's event. The team was only 30th fastest in today's final practice, running 176.544 mph, some 0.983 mph off the top speed posted by Kurt Busch (180.905 mph).

The "rainbow warriors" are not discouraged; they do have history on their side. Gordon has led more laps at California Speedway than any other driver, 329 of the 1,500 raced laps. His average finish at the 2-mile D- shaped oval is 5.8, and he has never charted worse than 16th.

"We've had a lot of success in Fontana," Gordon said. "We have fun racing here and are looking forward to a strong finish to continue our consistency."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Kurt Busch