Richmond: Jeff Gordon preview

At Richmond, Gordon need not start first to finish first. RICHMOND, Va. - Jeff Gordon may want to think twice before attempting to win the pole position for Saturday night's Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Gordon, ...

At Richmond, Gordon need not start first to finish first.

RICHMOND, Va. - Jeff Gordon may want to think twice before attempting to win the pole position for Saturday night's Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, has four career poles at Richmond. His best finish in those four races: 31st.

However, the last two times Gordon has won the pole for a NASCAR Winston Cup race he won the event. Both occurred at the series' other short tracks, Bristol (August 2002) and Martinsville (April 2003).

"Even knowing that, I'd still rather start first here," Gordon said. "Qualifying is one of the areas where we've improved this year. This team has made an effort to qualify better and I believe that translates into a better finishing position.

"Winning the pole has several advantages, one being the first choice of pit stalls. It may not be as important as Martinsville, but it's still an advantage to qualify well and choose one of the better pit stalls.

"Another advantage is traffic. If you have a good-handling car, it's still tough to pass when both grooves are working. It can take several laps of side-by-side racing before you gain the position.

"The side-by-side racing is why the fans love the racing here. That's why the drivers enjoy it, too."

Along with his four pole positions, Gordon has two wins (1996 and 2000), nine top-five's and 13 top-10's in 20 career starts at the 0.750-mile short track. He enters this Saturday night's event third in points, 152 behind leader Matt Kenseth and feeling fortunate to finish 11th in last Sunday's event at California Speedway.

"California was a tough race for this DuPont team," said Gordon. "We struggled throughout the weekend but almost came home with a top 10. We weren't good on new tires and we lost a lot of time at the start of each run, but we battled through it and came home with an 11th-place finish.

"As I told the crew after the race, a championship team makes the most out of the tough days."

-pprplus-

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