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Gordon Ready to Tackle ‘The Rock’

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Feb. 20, 2003) – Four of Jeff Gordon’s 61 NASCAR Winston Cup Series wins have come at North Carolina Speedway, but it’s been four years since his last victory lap at the 1.017-mile speedway. He hopes to return to his winning ways this Sunday in the Subway 400—the first non-restrictor-plate race for the new 2003 Monte Carlo.

Crew chief Robbie Loomis is excited about the new body style, but doesn’t expect to see direct results until Las Vegas and Atlanta.

“Rockingham is 75 percent chassis and 25 percent aerodynamics,” Loomis said. “Las Vegas and Atlanta are more aerodynamic-dependent tracks.

“The driver is an additional 100 percent. That’s why I believe we have a shot to win every weekend.”

Recently, the driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet has come just short of adding to his win total at “The Rock” with five top-10s in his last six races.

“We’ve been close several times over the past couple years, we just haven’t put it all together to grab the victory,” Gordon said. “Whether it’s been fighting track position or the handling wasn’t quite right at the end, we’ve run well but just haven’t scored a victory.”

In 20 career starts at the track located in the North Carolina sandhills, Gordon has four wins, two poles, eight top-fives and 10 top-10s. His first top-10 finish—a victory—was in the spring race of 1995, and his second—another trip to Victory Lane—came four races later.

“I love racing this track because you can race low and high and anywhere in between in the corners,” Gordon said. “You can adjust where you run in the corners based on how your car is driving.

“While you may have three or four lanes going through Turns 1 and 2, everybody’s fighting for the same piece of real estate exiting the corner.”

Gordon is not too concerned after his 12th-place finish in last Sunday’s Daytona 500. The NASCAR Winston Cup Series preseason No. 1 (as voted on by the media) is 58 points behind leader Michael Waltrip in his bid for a fifth championship.

“We raced well all week in Daytona,” Gordon said. “We had a good showing in the Budweiser Shootout and the Twin 125s. I thought we had a chance at a victory in the ‘500,’ but I was shuffled back right before the last caution.

“We had great pit stops and the car was great all week. We are a championship-caliber team and I’m looking forward to the next few months with the new 2003 Monte Carlo.”

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