Richmond II: Jeff Gordon preview

TEAM DUPONT'S 'MAGIC NUMBER' IS 23 AT RICHMOND RICHMOND, Va. (September 2, 2008) - Finishing 23rd or better, something Jeff Gordon has accomplished in 419 of his 534 NASCAR Sprint Cup starts, in the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond...

TEAM DUPONT'S 'MAGIC NUMBER' IS 23 AT RICHMOND

RICHMOND, Va. (September 2, 2008) - Finishing 23rd or better, something Jeff Gordon has accomplished in 419 of his 534 NASCAR Sprint Cup starts, in the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night will earn Team DuPont a spot in the "Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup." With the 12 Chase drivers' points reset following the event, it would also cut a 681-point deficit in the standings to less than 100.

While a 23rd-place finish or better will secure Gordon a Chase berth, that scenario is based on 13th-place David Ragan taking maximum points from the event - leading the most laps and securing the win - and 12th-place Clint Bowyer finishing second while also earning the bonus points for leading the most laps.

If Gordon earns five bonus points for leading a lap, the "magic number" drops to 24. If the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion leads the most laps, the number is now 26 - but that is taking into account Gordon, Ragan and Bowyer all tie for most laps led. Confused, yet?

"If we run like we're capable of running, then we shouldn't have to worry about scenarios," said Gordon, who will drive a specially painted No. 24 DuPont/Nicorette Chevrolet in Richmond. "We need to have a complete weekend, from a good practice session on Friday to a strong qualifying effort Friday night.

"And follow that up with a strong run and finish Saturday night."

"Hopefully, we won't have to concern ourselves with how the other teams are faring during the race. But I'm sure my crew chief Steve Letarte will be aware of the situation and will adjust the game plan, if necessary."

In 31 starts at the three-quarter mile track, Gordon has two victories, five poles, 12 top-fives and 19 top-10's. He has led 19 events for a total of 1,059 laps, and has led the most laps four times.

Two of those occasions were last year when he led 114 and 191 laps in the two Richmond events - both fourth-place finishes. In the spring of this year, Gordon was down a lap less than 50 laps into the event, but battled back to finish ninth.

"Earlier this year, we were forced to start at the rear of the field," said Gordon, referring to a NASCAR penalty for changing the engine starter on the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet prior to the race. "We were lapped early in the race, and it was a struggle back in the traffic.

"But in 'clean' air up front, the car was pretty good. We were able to get back on the lead lap and fight our way back for a good finish.

"That's the kind of fight we need again this weekend, although I'd prefer less drama."

-credit: hm

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Clint Bowyer , David Ragan