NHIS COULD BE SITE OF SIGNIFICANT WIN FOR GORDON AND LETARTE LOUDON, N.H. (July 11, 2006) -- After capturing his 75th win at Chicagoland Speedway last Sunday, Jeff Gordon will look to tie Dale Earnhardt for sixth all-time on the NASCAR career...
NHIS COULD BE SITE OF SIGNIFICANT WIN FOR GORDON AND LETARTE
LOUDON, N.H. (July 11, 2006) -- After capturing his 75th win at Chicagoland Speedway last Sunday, Jeff Gordon will look to tie Dale Earnhardt for sixth all-time on the NASCAR career win list in this Sunday's Lenox Industrial Tools 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway. Although he has three victories at the 1.058-mile track, the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion last visited Victory Lane here in 1998.
To put that into perspective, Gordon was only a two-time champion then, the win marked his 38th career victory and Steve Letarte, Gordon's crew chief who was born in nearby Portland, Maine, was only 19 years old but in his fourth season with the No. 24 team.
"Our primary focus each weekend is to win," Gordon said. "Sure, we're aware of possible records and the fact that Steve grew up near here, but that is in the back of our minds. "We haven't had the success we would have liked here recently, and we're looking to turn that around. Not because of any record or any hometown ties, but because we're competitors and we want to win."
Along with his three wins, Gordon has three poles, nine top-fives and 12 top-10's in 22 career starts at NHIS. He has paced the field in 14 events for a total of 1,069 laps led, the most of any driver. In advance of this weekend's race, the No. 24 DuPont team tested at the "Milwaukee Mile" in hopes the two tracks similarities would pay dividends.
"Getting prepared for this race was the primary -- but not the sole -- purpose of testing in Milwaukee," said Gordon. "While the two tracks are similar, they are definitely not the same. "But I think we learned some things we can apply this weekend."
With eight races remaining before the field is set for the "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup," Gordon knows it will be a battle to secure a coveted spot in the Chase. He currently sits 10th in the standings, only 108 markers behind fourth place -- a deficit that can be erased in one event. But spots 11 through 13 are within 132 points of Gordon, and that margin is also attainable in one event.
"We're definitely not comfortable where we are in the points," Gordon said. "It's good to be back in the top 10, but things can change in a hurry. There's probably 15 teams that have a shot at securing one of the 10 spots in the Chase. "Our performance has been there but we've lacked consistency, something we need to improve upon to be one of the 10 teams battling for the championship."