Martinsville II: Jeff Gordon preview

MARTINSVILLE, VA. (Oct. 10, 2003) -- When Jeff Gordon rolled into Victory Lane at Martinsville Speedway after winning the Virginia 500 last spring, he put an end to a pretty impressive streak. And he could end another remarkable streak if he...

MARTINSVILLE, VA. (Oct. 10, 2003) -- When Jeff Gordon rolled into Victory Lane at Martinsville Speedway after winning the Virginia 500 last spring, he put an end to a pretty impressive streak. And he could end another remarkable streak if he visits Victory Lane Sunday in the SUBWAY 500.

With last spring's win, Gordon became the first repeat winner at Martinsville in 11 Winston Cup events, a fete that stretched back to his last Martinsville win in the spring of 1997.

If Gordon pulls off a 2003 Martinsville sweep with a win in the SUBWAY 500, he'll become the first driver to win two in a row at Martinsville since he did it in the fall of 1996 and the spring of 1997.

"I always feel good about Martinsville," said Gordon, who has four Martinsville Speedway victories to his credit. "It's been a good track for us in qualifying, and it's been a good track for us in the race. We had a good, strong car all day long there earlier this year. So yes, I'm excited about heading back there."

Gordon will be gunning for this third career pole at Martinsville when MW Window Pole Day kicks off on Friday. And while he is a contender every time his Dupont Chevrolet rolls out at Martinsville these days, Gordon says the tough old track is never easy.

"Martinsville was probably one of the toughest tracks for me to learn," said Gordon. "Just making a lot of laps in a test there several years back helped me find some things.

"Each year, we just make the cars better and it helps me. Robbie and I were just discussing ideas to make ourselves even better when we go back."

The SUBWAY 500 will be the final short-track race of the season, and that, combined with the close-quarters racing at Martinsville, guarantees an exciting show.

"Martinsville is rough because it's a tough place to pass on and it's a short track," said Gordon. "Put those two things together and you have a lot of bumping and banging. Some of it could be paybacks and some of it could just be hard short-track racing."

Ryan Newman, currently the hottest driver on the Winston Cup circuit, was the pole winner for the SUBWAY 500 a year ago after turning in a qualifying time of 20.397 seconds. Tony Stewart holds the track qualifying record of 19.855 seconds, which is also the event record.

Kurt Busch is the defending SUBWAY 500 champion, after leading the final 90 laps a year ago.

The SUBWAY 500 weekend at Martinsville Speedway begins with MW Windows Pole Day on Friday, October 17. NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series qualifying for the Advance Auto Parts 200 is set for 1:30 p.m. on Friday. The Winston Cup cars go under the clock at 3:05 p.m. the same day.

The Advance Auto Parts 200 starts at 12:45 p.m. on Saturday, October 18 and the SUBWAY 500 at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 19.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman