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Three-Race Stretch Favorable to Gordon

 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (June 5, 2002)—He may be down, but he’s not out.

Despite a 21-race winless streak, his longest since winning his first race in 1994, Jeff Gordon has managed to climb to third in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings.

The climb should continue considering his history in the next three Winston Cup events at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, Michigan International Speedway and the road course at Sears Point Raceway. The defending Winston Cup champion has won three times and scored 14 top-10 finishes, including five runner-up finishes in 18 starts at Pocono. He’s also earned two wins and 14 top-10s in 18 Michigan starts and three wins and seven top-10s in nine starts at Sears Point.

“Pocono has always been good to me,” said Gordon. “We have a good balance between the horsepower you need to get down the long straightaways and the handling you need to get around the flat corners.

“The tunnel turn (turn two) is one of my favorite turns on the Winston Cup circuit. It’s a difficult turn because only one car can go through there, but passing is still possible and you can set someone up for turn three.”

Gordon’s climb up the point standings started after the Bristol, Tenn., event in March when he dropped to 10th in the point standings after finishing 31st due to an accident while running in the top five. Since then, he has finished in the top-10 in five of the last seven races and has steadily moved up to his current points position amidst talks that he is in a slump.

“I’m certainly in a race-winning slump, which is a slump of a different kind,” said Gordon. “But, we’re in a top-10 streak of late and it’s just a matter of time before we win again.

“I think some people may have counted us out, but I never thought we were out of contention for the championship. I think this team will draw from our experience last year to get us back on top.”

Gordon is only 24 points behind his employee, Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, for second place in the point standings and 160 behind leader Sterling Marlin.

“We definitely have a chance to close the gap a little before our last off weekend before Daytona,” Gordon said. “We know not to focus on what the other teams are doing or where they’re finishing. The only team I’m concerned about is the 24 ... and the 48.”

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