Championship In Gordon's Sight At Atlanta HAMPTON, Ga. - Jeff Gordon will aim at clinching his fourth Winston Cup championship as the NASCAR Winston Cup Series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the NAPA 500 on Sunday. Gordon, who leads the...
Championship In Gordon's Sight At Atlanta
HAMPTON, Ga. - Jeff Gordon will aim at clinching his fourth Winston Cup championship as the NASCAR Winston Cup Series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the NAPA 500 on Sunday.
Gordon, who leads the Winston Cup point standings by 305 over second-place Ricky Rudd, can clinch the 2001 Winston Cup championship just by starting the series' final races at Atlanta and New Hampshire. However, he can uncork the champagne this Sunday if he finishes 32nd or better.
That scenario may occur considering Gordon's recent performances at Atlanta, where he made his first Winston Cup start in November of 1992. In the last six races at the 1.54-mile speedway, he has five top-10 finishes, including consecutive wins (fall of 1998 and spring of 1999) and a second-place photo-finish with Kevin Harvick in March of this year.
"Where and when we clinch makes no difference to me, just as long as we do," said Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet. "I think the chances of us clinching at Atlanta are pretty good if we can work ourselves out of this slide we've gotten into recently."
That slide consists of consecutive finishes of 25th and 28th at Rockingham and Homestead, respectively. It is the only time the No. 24 team has finished 20th or worse in back-to-back races in 2001.
"At Rockingham, we were really loose all day and we did everything we could to try to fix it, but nothing seemed to work," said Gordon. "At Homestead, we just had bad luck with a pit road incident that bent the left front fender. We short pitted and tried to adjust the car and gain track position, but a caution came out and put us a lap down.
"I'm sure we'll regroup for Atlanta, that's what winning championships is all about."
After 34 of 36 events in 2001, Gordon has a series-leading six wins, including a record-breaking third Brickyard 400 victory and seventh road course victory, six poles, 18 top-five finishes, 2,032 laps led, a 9.4 average start and 11.0 average finish. He also won Winston Cup's all-star event, The Winston, for a record-tying third time.
Last March, the team brought a new car to Atlanta and ended up in a photo-finish with Harvick. They are bringing another new car this weekend, but that doesn't have anyone worried.
"We haven't forgotten what happened in the spring," said Gordon. "So, we're not just shooting for 32nd place, we're looking to win."