Las Vegas: Jeff Gordon preview

GORDON WANTS UPPER HAND AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY LAS VEGAS, Nev. - In casinos, the "house" holds the edge over the player in most table games. At Las Vegas Motor Speedway, it appears the track has an advantage over Jeff Gordon. This Sunday,...

GORDON WANTS UPPER HAND AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - In casinos, the "house" holds the edge over the player in most table games. At Las Vegas Motor Speedway, it appears the track has an advantage over Jeff Gordon. This Sunday, Gordon wants to stop that trend and return to his winning ways as the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series visits the 1.5-mile speedway for the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400.

Gordon, a 70-time winner in NASCAR's premier series, won here in 2001 en route to his fourth championship. In 1999, he posted a third-place finish - his only other top-10 finish in seven starts at Las Vegas.

In 2003, Gordon qualified second and led 53 laps before an accident relegated him to a 37th-place finish.

"We haven't had a good handle on the track since 2003 when we sat on the outside pole and led a lot of laps," crew chief Robbie Loomis said. "We tested here with the new rules package during the offseason and were pleased with the results.

"We need to contend for the win this weekend."

"While we haven't had the continued success here that we strive for, this DuPont team always seems to put forth a championship effort at this track," Gordon said. "In 2001, we started mid-pack with an average car. Robbie made the right adjustments to the car all day and that led to a victory.

"Last year, we didn't win but the effort of this No. 24 team was incredible."

In 2004, Gordon's DuPont Chevrolet suffered cosmetic damage when he scraped the fourth-turn wall during his qualifying run on Friday. While he still posted the 20th-fastest time during the session, a blown engine during Saturday morning's practice forced him to start at the rear of the field for Sunday's event (NASCAR rules require the same engine be used during qualifying and the race. If the engine is changed, the driver is forced to start at the back as a penalty). He climbed as high as sixth before finishing the 400-mile event 15th.

"We encountered several problems on Friday and Saturday, but the team never got down," Gordon said. "Some of our 'Sunday crew' - who fly out on Saturday mornings for west coast events - even drove straight to the track once they arrived in Las Vegas to help with the engine change, repair the sheet metal or just lend a helping hand.

"We didn't have the best car here last year, but I believe we had the best all-around team effort."

And that type of effort gives Gordon an advantage.

-hm/ppr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Robbie Loomis