AVONDALE, Ariz. (November 4, 2008) - Following four consecutive top-10 finishes, Jeff Gordon has moved up to fifth in the standings - the highest ranking in 2008 for the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion. Will the surge continue for Team ...
AVONDALE, Ariz. (November 4, 2008) - Following four consecutive top-10 finishes, Jeff Gordon has moved up to fifth in the standings - the highest ranking in 2008 for the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion. Will the surge continue for Team DuPont at Phoenix International Raceway this Sunday in the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500? With only two races remaining in the campaign, Gordon is still mathematically alive in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. The deficit to leader and teammate Jimmie Johnson stands at 255, and Gordon would need finish ahead of Johnson by approximately 33 positions in each race to close that gap.
"That's highly unlikely to occur, especially with how well the 48 team has been running," said Gordon, who is only 43 markers behind fourth-place Jeff Burton. "Jimmie has put together a good string of finishes and, even when the team has struggled, they've still been able to pull out a respectable finish.
"I feel like we are continuing to improve, and that's our focus for the remainder of the year. We want that to continue so we have some sort of momentum heading into the offseason and maybe gain some more positions in the standings."
Phoenix may provide a good opportunity for that to occur. In 1993 during his rookie season, Gordon led 48 laps at the one-mile track but finished 35th after completing only 195 of 312 laps. Since then, he has one victory (2007), three poles, eight top-fives and 15 top-10's in 18 starts. Despite the statistics, Gordon does not know what to expect when the car rolls onto the track Friday.
"Phoenix has been 'hit or miss' for us," said Gordon. "We have good results here and have that one win. Other times, we been able to finish in the top 10 but we just didn't have the car competitive enough to battle for the win.
"On Sunday, I expect the sun to be beating down on the track, so there will be less 'grip' - and that puts a premium on handling." If Team DuPont finds the handle on Sunday, Gordon could notch his first victory of the season.
"We haven't won this year, but that doesn't mean we'll put extra emphasis on winning here," said Gordon. "We try to win every weekend, and that means putting together a complete weekend from qualifying on Friday, during the practices on Saturday, through the end of the race on Sunday.
"If we put ourselves in a position to win, though, it might be worth gambling on fuel or pit strategy to get the victory."