Kansas: Jeff Gordon preview

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - As the four-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion travels to Kansas Speedway this weekend for the Banquet 400, only the third Winston Cup race since the track's inception, Jeff Gordon will attempt to win his third-consecutive race...

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - As the four-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion travels to Kansas Speedway this weekend for the Banquet 400, only the third Winston Cup race since the track's inception, Jeff Gordon will attempt to win his third-consecutive race and remain the only series winner at the 1.5-mile track.

Yet another win at this track would place Gordon in the NASCAR history books as the only driver to win the first three events at a Winston Cup track. Both Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick were unable to surpass their two-race winning streaks at Homestead and Chicago, respectively.

"Winning the first two races was not easy though, especially here at Kansas," Gordon said. "Our team would love to get our second win of the season and our third win here. First, we have to focus on the challenges for this weekend's race.

"This is a great track but it's difficult to pass here. With such a competitive field, you never know who your biggest challenge will be."

Over the past two years, Gordon has been able to fend off challenges from 42 competitors to reach victory lane on a track where passing seems nearly impossible.

"Since this is a fairly new track, there is only one groove and right now it's around the bottom," Gordon said. "As more races are held here, that groove will eventually widen. It's like a fine wine. It just gets better with age.

"Until then, there's not going to be a whole lot of passing, unless you're a whole lot faster than the driver in front of you or if they make a mistake or get loose. This will probably be a race that's won on pit road. We're going to rely a lot on our pit crews."

A good qualifying effort and maintaining good track position has proven to be a key element in taking the checkered flag for the No. 24 DuPont team at Kansas City. With a second-place start in 2001 and qualifying 10th in 2002, Gordon was able to maintain track position and be there at the end.

Gordon's track record for leading the most laps at Kansas has been far from insignificant. Of a possible 534 laps at Kansas City, he has controlled 32 percent. In 2001, 53 of the 267 laps led were recorded by the No. 24 DuPont Chevy, and in 2002, Gordon led the field for a total of 116 laps.

"We know coming here that track position is crucial," said crew chief Robbie Loomis. "The focus will be on the pit crew, good pit stops and pit strategy. You can win or lose this race in the pits."

"We've done well here in the past but we can't focus on the past for this race," Gordon said. "The No. 24 DuPont team has to approach this race with a renewed focus.

"Fortunately, our team has had some strong finishes over the past few weekends, and I hope we can carry that momentum to a track where we really enjoy racing."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Robbie Loomis