Jeff Gordon is a handicapped man on Sunday. All of his experience at one of Gordon's best tracks has been wiped out by the repaving of Martinsville Speedway. If history was any indication, it was expected that Gordon (who has five poles at ...
Jeff Gordon is a handicapped man on Sunday. All of his experience at one of Gordon's best tracks has been wiped out by the repaving of Martinsville Speedway.
If history was any indication, it was expected that Gordon (who has five poles at Martinsville) would start close to the front here, but the new pavement has wreaked havoc for Team 24.
"I'll say they did a fantastic job repaving the concrete," said Gordon. "It's less of a driver's track now than it used to be. I think that caught us a little behind yesterday because the track is fast, smooth, it's got a lot of grip and just getting sheer speed out of the cars was important yesterday.
"We didn't do as good of a job as I hoped we were going to do. We actually ran faster here in testing that we did yesterday."
During the spring race, a large portion of concrete dislodged from the track, leaving a hole in the surface and damaging some cars, including Gordon's. The race was red-flagged while repairs were made, since then the asphalt and the concrete in the turns has been redone.
Martinsville has always been a stellar venue for Gordon to strut his stuff, but his advantages here have been reset to zero. Gordon starts 15th for the Subway 500, his worst starting spot since 1993.
To make matters worse pit selection is based on qualifying results. Both Busch (7th) and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (3rd) start ahead of Gordon on Sunday.
"Those other two guys (Busch, Earnhardt) are running good everywhere," Gordon said. "This is the place that I think we can make something happen. I'm excited about that. When we leave here we got to make something happen in Atlanta. We got to make something happen in Phoenix. We got to make something happen everywhere. That's just the way this Chase is with the new points system."
It will be tough for the No. 24 Hendrick Chevy team to make something happen at Martinsville. At a venue where track position is everything, Gordon will have to battle his way to the front and try and steer clear of any incidents that could take him out of the race.
Gordon has managed to remain optimistic even though he was only 13th quickest in final practice.
"If I just single out our statistics and our thought process coming into this race, we're certainly excited about it," said Gordon. "This is a track we've run very well at. But again, I factor in the fact that they changed this race track. We've got a new challenge on our hands. I don't think you can really predict who's going to be good here and who's not."