RICHMOND STORYLINE DOES NOT INCLUDE GORDON. YET. RICHMOND, Va. (September 8, 2009) - With a berth in the "Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup" already clinched and 11 drivers vying for the final eight spots available at Richmond International...
RICHMOND STORYLINE DOES NOT INCLUDE GORDON. YET.
RICHMOND, Va. (September 8, 2009) - With a berth in the "Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup" already clinched and 11 drivers vying for the final eight spots available at Richmond International Raceway (RIR) on Saturday night, Jeff Gordon does not figure into many storylines ahead of the Chevy Rock and Roll 400. But a strong finish at the three-quarter mile track could propel the No. 24 team to a storybook ending in 2009.
During Saturday's 400-lap race, much of the attention will be focused on "who is in" and "who is out" among the 12 drivers that will battle for the championship. Gordon and the No. 24 team are already in, so the only question that remains for them is whether they will enter the postseason with 10 or 20 bonus points.
"We're in a good position for this weekend's race since we've already locked up a 'Chase' spot," said Gordon, who will drive a specially-painted No. 24 DuPont/National Guard Chevrolet at RIR. "We're not having to worry about where we are running versus our competitors and if that will get us in the 'Chase' or not. We've been in that position before and it's not fun.
"For us, it's about going after the win and the 10 bonus points that go along with it."
In 33 starts at the Virginia track, Gordon has two wins (1996 and 2000), five poles, 12 top-fives and 21 top-10's. He has led 1,161 laps here, including 407 of a possible 2,010 (20 percent) in the last five events. Crew chief Steve Letarte believes the No. 24 can battle for the win this weekend, but it has more to do with a second-place finish north of the Mason- Dixon Line in July than past history at the Virginia track.
"What we learned at Loudon should help us this weekend," said Letarte, referring to the rain-shortened New Hampshire Motor Speedway event won by Joey Logano. "We led laps and I thought we were real competitive.
"In turn, I hope what we learn this weekend carries over to the first race of the 'Chase' at Loudon."
But first things first, and that is Saturday night's race - a race Gordon expects to be exciting for the competitors and the fans.
"I've always enjoyed racing here, and I think the teams and fans love it, as well," said Gordon. "It's such a great short track event 'under the lights,' and the track has multiple grooves.
"It always seems to be a very competitive race with a lot of action and a few surprises. When you throw in so many guys battling for 'Chase' spots, there's going to be a lot of exciting things to watch."
If all that excitement occurs in Gordon's rearview mirror and he is victorious, it could be the perfect beginning to a great ending.