Texas: Jeff Gordon preview

FORT WORTH, Texas (April 10, 2007) -- Jeff Gordon has a one-track mind, and right now it is focused on the only track where he has never won a NASCAR race. Gordon, a four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet,...

FORT WORTH, Texas (April 10, 2007) -- Jeff Gordon has a one-track mind, and right now it is focused on the only track where he has never won a NASCAR race. Gordon, a four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, has visited Victory Lane at 19 of the 22 tracks currently on the NASCAR Cup schedule. While he has 75 career victories in NASCAR's premier division to his credit, Gordon has never won a Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway or Homestead-Miami Speedway. He has, however, won a Busch Series event at Phoenix (1999) and Homestead (2000).

If recent intermediate track performance is any indication, Team DuPont might be able to mark Texas off their list following the Samsung 500 on Sunday. There have been three races held on intermediate tracks this year, and Team DuPont has fared well in each of them. At California, Gordon started first and finished second. At the newly configured Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the 35-year old driver led a race-high 111 laps before finishing second. His only "blemish" occurred at Atlanta where he battled back from a lap down to post a 12th-place finish. Gordon led 30 laps that day but lost a lap in the pits when repairs to a "crush" panel took longer than expected.

But Texas has always been "hit or miss" for the No. 24 team. In 12 previous starts at the 1.5-mile track, Gordon has posted four top-fives and five top-10's. He also has five finishes of 22nd or worse. "We've been in contention to win here before, but we've also had races where I felt we didn't have a car capable of being on the lead lap," Gordon said. "It's hard to explain why one year you can be good and the next year you're not.

"Our sport changes every year - the setups, the cars and everything. Sometimes you adjust to the changes well and other times you're playing catch up."

Gordon and Team DuPont appear to have adjusted well to this year's changes that include the introduction of the "Car of Tomorrow" (CoT) at certain tracks. Gordon currently leads the point standings by 28 and has not finished worse than 12th in the first six races of the 2007 season. In the past two races, Gordon finished third and second on the short tracks of Bristol and Martinsville in the No. 24 Impala SS, Chevrolet's model for the CoT.

But Texas is an intermediate track and Gordon will drive the "older" version No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS this weekend. "I think the change is more of an issue for the teams having to build two different cars," Gordon said. "I don't think it's much of an issue for the drivers going back and forth between the cars because Martinsville and Texas are completely different tracks.

"I go race to race to race, and that's how I've always done it. As a team, we think ahead and prepare for races and prepare for tests. As a driver, I focus as much as I can on the upcoming weekend and when we leave, I start focusing on the next race. "Maybe I have a one-track mind."

-credit: hm

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon