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Gordon Hunting a Streak at RIR

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Sept. 3, 2002)—Duck Season! Rabbit Season! Duck Season! Rabbit Season!

Jeff Gordon hopes 42 drivers are chasing a rabbit at the end of Saturday night’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo 400 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.

Driving the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, Gordon is looking for his third consecutive trip to Victory Lane after wins at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. His “co-pilot” for the night, Bugs Bunny, is still looking for his first NASCAR victory.

“Last year, we had fire in our eyes when we were racing for our fourth championship,” said Gordon, who will be running a special Looney Tunes paint scheme at RIR. “We lost a little bit of that for a while, but kept the faith in one another. After the last two wins, we have the fire back.

“I hope Bugs has it, too.”

Gordon has climbed from fifth to second in the standings over the past two weeks and cut Sterling Marlin’s lead by 59 points. Only once in Gordon’s four championship years has he trailed the leader this deep into the season. In 1997, he was second with only 10 races remaining, edging Dale Jarrett and Mark Martin in the closest three-way battle for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship in the modern era (1972 - present).

“This year is shaping up to be another close race for the championship,” said the defending Winston Cup champion. “Five or six guys still have a shot at it.

“We’re second in points right now, so we’re in the position of ‘the hunter.’ I love it because you have nothing to lose. When you’re the team needing points and wins, you go for broke and take risks, which can either pay off or bite you. Right now, it’s definitely paying off.”

In 19 races at Richmond, Gordon has two wins, four poles, nine top fives and 13 top 10s. While he hasn’t enjoyed the type of success he has at Darlington (six wins) or Bristol (five wins), Gordon loves the twice-annual trip to RIR.

“I’ve always said that if I were to build a track, I’d model it after Richmond,” he said. “The fans really love it—especially under the lights—and the drivers like it because you can race side-by-side lap after lap.

“But at the checkered flag, you’re hoping the side-by-side racing is in your rear-view mirror.”

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