Upcoming Stretch Pivotal for Gordon
- Jul 01, 2002
- 24 Team
CHARLOTTE, N.C.—The NASCAR Winston Cup Series visits New Hampshire International Speedway this Sunday for the New England 300, the third event of 20 consecutive weekly races for stock car racing’s top division.
While a vacation would be nice, Jeff Gordon sees this as a great opportunity for the No. 24 DuPont team.
“This stretch really shows how well teams are prepared,” Gordon said. “It can create long hours for the guys at the shop if they’re playing ‘catch-up’ during this time.
“We didn’t tear much up during the first half of the season and that certainly helps. And we learned a lot from the 48 team that we’ll apply during our second visit to the tracks.”
The July New Hampshire event last season was the beginning of a 10-race stretch that helped catapult Gordon to the 2001 Winston Cup championship, the fourth of his career.
In those 10 events, Gordon scored nine top-10 finishes including victories at Indianapolis, Watkins Glen, N.Y., and Kansas City, Kan. He entered the New Hampshire race tied for the points lead with Dale Jarrett, and 10 races later—after winning Kansas City—he held a 222-point lead over second-place Ricky Rudd.
“That was a defining stretch for this team,” said Gordon. “I guess you could say we were ‘in the zone’ during those races. Not only did we think we should consistently finish in the top five each weekend, but we felt like we had cars that could win every race.”
Gordon’s chances of making another move up the standings this weekend are good. In 14 races at New Hampshire, Gordon has three wins, three poles, eight top-five and 10 top-10 finishes. He dominated the fall event last season, leading 257 of 300 laps, before an accident dropped him to 15th.
“We’re using the same car here that we used last fall and I hope we have the same performance but with a better result,” said Gordon. “They’ve made some changes to the track and I’m eager to see how those changes affect the racing and the groove.”
Gordon will attempt to win his second straight pole at the New Hampshire track this Friday, a day in which his primary sponsor, DuPont, celebrates 200 years of scientific achievements that have improved the lives of people around the world.
“Winning the pole would be nice, but I’d rather give DuPont a belated present from victory lane on Sunday,” said Gordon. “The support they’ve given us over the years is amazing. Our successful partnership has produced 58 wins and four championships.
“And we’re not done yet.”