Phoenix: Jeff Gordon preview

EAST COAST TEST COULD LEAD TO STRONG DESERT RUN FOR GORDON AVONDALE, Ariz. (April 18, 2006) -- Unable to test at Phoenix International Raceway in advance of this Saturday night's Subway Fresh 500, Jeff Gordon and Team DuPont prepared for this ...

EAST COAST TEST COULD LEAD TO STRONG DESERT RUN FOR GORDON

AVONDALE, Ariz. (April 18, 2006) -- Unable to test at Phoenix International Raceway in advance of this Saturday night's Subway Fresh 500, Jeff Gordon and Team DuPont prepared for this race nearly 2,300 miles away at Richmond International Raceway. At the beginning of this season, NASCAR instituted a rule that limits tests where NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races are held.

The teams are permitted to test at only Richmond, Daytona International Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Lowe's Motor Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway on specific dates. Faced with this obstacle, the No. 24 team decided to split their focus during last week's test at Richmond. "We concentrated specifically on Richmond for only about 40 percent of that test," crew chief Steve Letarte said. "The remaining 60 percent was spent on ‘generic' testing where we were gathering data that relates to Phoenix, New Hampshire International Speedway or other tracks." Gordon, a four-time champion and 73-time winner in NASCAR's premier series, believes the benefits of the short track test will carry over into other areas of their racing program. "That was a very valuable test," said Gordon. "It's amazing that we now test at Richmond and not only learn about that track, but we're actually applying things we learn there to other tracks.

"Because of the technology that we have and the direction that we're going with the setups these days, you're able to learn a lot from every single track that you visit. Our tests are so limited these days that we have to take full advantage of them." Although Gordon has posted six top-fives and 11 top-10's in 14 starts at PIR, he has yet to post a victory at the relatively flat Arizona track. After failing to make the "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup" in 2005, Gordon wants to begin building momentum so that does not occur again this year.

"We recognize we have to walk before we can run," said Gordon, who currently sits eighth in the point standings. "We've had some pretty good runs this year -- especially on the short tracks. And Phoenix is somewhat of a short track in our opinion. "We ran pretty well here last year and finished third. We're going to try to build on that and be a little bit better this weekend. We're looking to build some momentum, put a string of top fives together and get to the Winner's Circle."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon