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Fuel Cell Won’t Hurt Gordon

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Oct. 2, 2002)—After posting his third win of the year on Sunday at Kansas Speedway and staking his claim in the championship chase, Jeff Gordon will look to avoid the “big one” as the NASCAR Winston Cup Series heads to Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway this weekend for the EA Sports 500.

Talladega is one of two restrictor plate tracks on the Winston Cup circuit where multi-car accidents are a common occurrence. In an attempt to make the race safer, NASCAR has reduced the size of the fuel cells in the cars.

“It makes some sense,” Gordon said, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet. “The lighter fuel load will force us into more green flag pit stops which should break us up from one big pack of 43 cars to a number of smaller packs.

“I just hope that if it comes down to a fuel mileage race that we’ve got decent fuel mileage. If we all use our heads and play it smart and do what we’re capable of doing, we can put on one heck of a race—one that the fans will enjoy and that we’ll enjoy—and come out with an exciting finish.”

Gordon avoided the big one and finished fourth at Talladega earlier this year. Overall at the 2.66-mile superspeedway he has two wins, eight top-five and 10 top-10 finishes. However, of his 42 career Winston Cup poles, none have come at Talladega.

“Qualifying isn’t as important here as it is at other tracks,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, I’d much rather start up front. But with the restrictor plates and aero rules we have here, if you start in the back you can work your way up front in just a few laps.”

Gordon will look to get up front and stay there this weekend. Last Sunday at Kansas he led the most laps en route to his 61st career Winston Cup win and gained the most possible points—185. He picked up 81 points on the overall lead in the point standings and is currently fourth, 109 behind leader and teammate Jimmie Johnson.

“This race has the most potential for a big shakeup in the point standings,” Gordon said. “I imagine everyone’s goal is to come out of it without taking a significant hit.

“Our strategy will be the same as it is every week, get to the front, have solid pit stops and put ourselves in a position at the end of the race to win or finish in the top-five.

“These last seven races are going to be very interesting. We can’t focus on what other guys are doing—whether they’re doing something good or having trouble—all we can focus on is our own program. That’s how we’ve won championships in the past and that’s how we’re going to win them in the future.”

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