"BRAKE"THROUGH PERFORMANCE FOR TEAM DUPONT AT RICHMOND? RICHMOND, Va. (April 29, 2008) - Richmond International Raceway, site of this Saturday night's Crown Royal Presents the Dan Lowry 400, has always been one of Jeff Gordon's favorite tracks.
"BRAKE"THROUGH PERFORMANCE FOR TEAM DUPONT AT RICHMOND?
RICHMOND, Va. (April 29, 2008) - Richmond International Raceway, site of this
Saturday night's Crown Royal Presents the Dan Lowry 400, has always been one of Jeff Gordon's favorite tracks. But he has not won on the three-quarter mile layout since 2000
and "only" has two wins here. Could the driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet Impala SS capture a "brake"through victory this weekend?
Along with two victories, Gordon has collected five poles, 12 top-fives and 18 top- 10's in 30 starts. But Team DuPont suffered through a difficult stretch during the 2005 and
2006 seasons at the Virginia track, posting four finishes of 30th or worse and failing to
lead a lap during the four events. The "brakes" were not going his way. "We've improved aerodynamics, horsepower and grip over the past few years that
we're going so much faster," Gordon said. "Maintaining that speed, more so with me than other drivers, caused us to have brake issues.
"But it wasn't running out of brakes, it was building up pad on the rotor that caused a vibration. Once that happened, the handling of the car was gone the rest of the night.
"We addressed that, made adjustments and had two top-five finishes last year.
Hopefully, we can build on that and improve our finishing position this weekend." During the 2007 events, the brake adjustments made by the No. 24 team coincided
with the introduction of the "Car of Tomorrow" (CoT) at the short track - and the results improved. Gordon won the pole for the spring event and led a race-high 114 laps before finishing fourth. In the September race, he qualified second and led a race-high 191 laps en route to another fourth-place finish.
Crew chief Steve Letarte believes their recent turnaround is two-fold. "The spring race was the first time we raced the Chevrolet Impala SS here, and the Hendrick Motorsports CoT test program put us in a good position prior to that race," Letarte said. "And when you don't run well at a certain track, you put a little extra emphasis on turning things around. That showed in the results.
"I think another breakthrough was the braking package we used. In 2005 and 2006, we used what we thought was the best braking system. But it wasn't the best system for our driver.
"Last year, we changed that package and it worked better for Jeff. It's not the 'best,' but sometimes what works for us is not the best on paper."
With the right "brakes," Team DuPont could be celebrating their first win of 2008.