Martinsville: Jeff Gordon preview

GORDON HOPES TO "MASTER" MARTINSVILLE THIS SUNDAY MARTINSVILLE, Va. - It is not a green jacket, but Jeff Gordon would like to add another grandfather clock to his collection when the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series visits Martinsville Speedway for the...

GORDON HOPES TO "MASTER" MARTINSVILLE THIS SUNDAY

MARTINSVILLE, Va. - It is not a green jacket, but Jeff Gordon would like to add another grandfather clock to his collection when the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series visits Martinsville Speedway for the Advance Auto Parts 500 on Sunday.

The winner of The Masters in Augusta, Ga., will don the traditional green jacket awarded the champion after play is completed on Sunday. Martinsville has their own tradition, presenting the winner of each race with a grandfather clock. While the two events are separated by 300 miles, patience on the 'course' may be the key factor in determining the winner of both events.

"I enjoy watching golf on occasion, but I can't say that I'm a huge fan," said Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet. "I was lucky enough to be in Augusta last year to watch the final day of The Masters, and it was an exciting event.

"Phil Mickelson's putt on the 18th hole to win The Masters -- and the build up to that point -- was incredible. I'm sure he had to exercise a lot of patience during that final round on those tough greens."

Augusta National, site of The Masters, is known for very fast putting surfaces and difficult pin placements that tests the world's best golfers. Martinsville Speedway is a tight, paperclip-shaped track that can test a driver's patience. Gordon and Team DuPont have shown the patience to collect five victories at the Virginia short track.

Along with those five victories, Gordon has captured five poles, 12 top-fives and 18 top-10's in 24 starts. He has an 8.4 average finish, a 6.6 average start and has completed 99 percent of the laps on the short track since his debut in the series in 1993.

"One of the things I learned early on here is that you have to be patient in the way you drive this track," the four-time champion said. "The key is not to overdrive the corner.

"With a flat, sharp corner, it's very easy to drive too deep into the corner. When you do that, it just messes up the whole corner. It takes away your ability to roll through the center and drive straight up off the corner."

That driving technique, coupled with patience, may allow Gordon to 'Master' Martinsville for a sixth time this weekend.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon