Phoenix: Jeff Gordon preview

AVONDALE, Ariz. - This weekend, Jeff Gordon will look for one: his first win at Phoenix International Raceway; two: a move toward second in the Winston Cup Series point standing and three: a third consecutive win in as many weeks. This weekend's...

AVONDALE, Ariz. - This weekend, Jeff Gordon will look for one: his first win at Phoenix International Raceway; two: a move toward second in the Winston Cup Series point standing and three: a third consecutive win in as many weeks.

This weekend's Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway is one of only four tracks that Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, has yet to record a win. In addition to Texas, Chicagoland and Miami, where he has made less attempts, a win at Phoenix has eluded Gordon who has 64 career victories at 19 of 23 tracks.

Gordon has recorded strong finishes at each track where he has yet to win. In 2002, he captured second at Texas and Chicagoland and a respectful fifth-place finish at Homestead.

En route to his best finish at Phoenix, Gordon led 16 laps and finished third last year. In 10 races here, he has recorded four top-fives, eight top-10's and has led a total of 65 laps.

"We've had solid finishes at each of these tracks," Gordon said. "That isn't good enough though. Our team is capable of winning at each and every track. After testing there last week, we learned a lot that will help us this weekend."

Heading into Phoenix, Gordon has one thing that many competitors do not - momentum. After winning back-to-back races at Martinsville and Atlanta, respectively, the DuPont team has the confidence to capture its first win at the 1.0-mile oval.

"These past two weeks have really given our team the needed confidence to take on these tracks where we know we can win but haven't," Gordon said. "With only three races left, I think we have some more left in us before it's all over this year."

After being in contention for the 2003 championship during the first half of the season, Gordon had finishes of 19th or worse in seven of the 10 events following Daytona in July. Following the New Hampshire event in September, the downward spiral moved Gordon to sixth in the point standings, 633 points behind leader Matt Kenseth.

Since then, Gordon has recorded six top-five finishes including four consecutive fifth-place finishes, back-to-back wins and in the process has gained 337 points on Kenseth. Only 38 points behind second place Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Gordon has a legitimate shot to finish second in Winston Cup points by year's end.

"We fight for a lot of things," Gordon said. "Number one, we always want to win and we fight to win every race. We've had to fight extra hard this season because of all the downfalls we had during the summer.

"Our main focus has been second in points. We've made big gains toward that. I guess if there is a miracle, there's still a possibility.

"We just want to keep doing what we're doing right now, and that's putting great race cars out there, communicating well and fighting until the end."

And they hope it comes as easy as one...two...three.

-pprplus-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth