Winston: Jeff Gordon preview

GOrdon going for record-breaking fourth victory in The Winston CONCORD, NC - The format may have changed for The Winston but the objective is the same - win. That is something Jeff Gordon has accomplished a record-tying three times in the annual...

GOrdon going for record-breaking fourth victory in The Winston

CONCORD, NC - The format may have changed for The Winston but the objective is the same - win. That is something Jeff Gordon has accomplished a record-tying three times in the annual all-star event held at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

In addition to adding 20 laps (30 miles), the "Survival of the Fastest" format will eliminate drivers so that only the 10 fastest are left to compete in the final segment.

"Eliminating the cars and other drivers through each segment is certainly going to keep things exciting," said Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet. "Adding 20 laps is going to do much more than you can imagine. You can run pretty hard here for 10 laps before the handling starts to go away.

"Sometimes you'll see a guy break away and once that leader gets out there, nobody can catch him. But when you start adding more laps, he's going to have to be careful how hard he pushes that car because the handling will go away and somebody can run him down."

Gordon's victory last year in the rain-delayed event tied the late Dale Earnhardt for most victories in The Winston. It may have been the most unorthodox victory in Gordon's Winston Cup career because he was forced to use a backup car after his primary car was damaged in an accident due to rain on the first lap.

"I took a pretty hard lick in that accident and I figured my night was done," said Gordon. "But then I saw how hard everyone was working to get the backup car prepared and I wasn't about to let them down.

"I think at one point there must have been about 20 guys working on the backup car in order to get it ready to race. It just goes to show how dedicated this team is. It wasn't even a points race but they were working like the championship depended on it."

"I just told Jeff to feel the car out during the first couple of laps," said crew chief, Robbie Loomis. "We were going to use the remainder of The Winston as a test session for the 600.

"Jeff's reply was, 'are you kidding me. We're going to win this thing.'"

Because Gordon used a backup car, he had to start at the end of the field when the track finally dried. After the first 30-lap segment he moved up to fourth and after the second 30-lap segment he was in second position.

In addition to last year's victory, Gordon won The Winston in 1995 and 1997. Coincidentally, each year he has won The Winston he went on to win the Winston Cup championship.

"When you get into Winston Cup racing, you go against the best every weekend," said Gordon. "But The Winston is the best of the best and I've been fortunate enough to have a great team behind me for each of my three victories. To break the record will be a huge accomplishment for this team.

"I just hope that we won't have another accident like we did last year. But if we do and the scenario is the same and NASCAR let's us bring out our backup car, I'm sure we won't miss a beat."

-hm/pprp-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Robbie Loomis